Title: A Favor for Scully
Author: Scarlet Scully
Date Completed: September, 2000
Rating: PG
Classification: SR
Spoilers: slight references to season 3: Irresistible and Humbug
Keywords: Mulder/Scully Romance
Disclaimer: I don't own the X-files, but just want to pay homage to the man who created this nice little world for me to play around in -- and maybe give Chris Carter a couple of ideas for the next season.

Summary: Scully needs Mulder to help her save face with her friends. Fortunately, their plans get a little carried away.

FBI Headquarters
Washington, DC
June 14, 1996
9:07 AM

Scully sat on the corner of Mulder's desk for about the tenth time in the past 3 hours. She thought about the favor she was about to ask him and all she had done to try to swing the odds of him accepting her way. For starters, she had arrived almost 3 hours early to work just to make sure that she beat the workaholic (now there's an understatement if I ever heard one) to work. Of course, today would be one of those rare, if not nonexistent, occasions when her partner was actually *late* for work. She had made this morning's coffee just the way he liked it: like mud. She drank the last two pots of mud herself and had just finished brewing a third.

Her fingers were starting to burn when she realized she was still holding the fresh cup she had poured for him. Placing the cup on his desk, she shook her head at herself. (Mulder doesn't care that he makes coffee in the morning. I only think he will appreciate it because I appreciate it so much when he does it for me everyday.)

Crossing her legs and smoothing down her cream skirt, she smiled at herself, thinking about her choice of clothes this morning. A slim-fitting skirt that ended just above her knees with a short slit over her left thigh. (A little daring for the FBI), but she was almost certain that they wouldn't be seeing anyone official today, so she risked it. Her blouse was white and sleeveless and she had one more button opened this morning. (Every little bit helps), she mused.

She was about to get up and top off her own cup when the door opened.

"Hey, Scully. Sorry I'm late. Would you believe I slept in?"

"No, I wouldn't, but I did bring you breakfast today. Maybe I'm psychic or something." She handed him a small bag, knowing he'd enjoy the two lemon-filled donuts inside.

He smiled at her. "Psychic, hey? Maybe, I can make a believer out of you yet. Did you have a good night last night?" He mumbled around a mouthful of doughnut.

"Oh, you know, same old must see TV and all that. Good thing I don't watch all that often. At least when it's time for summer repeats, I haven't actually seen that many." She handed him his cup of coffee as he sat down.

He raised his eyebrow and smiled at her. "Breakfast *and* coffee, what's gotten into you? Are you trying to hit me up for a favor or some money or something, Scully?"

She stood up and walked around his desk to her side. She thought she saw the hint of a smile as he got a full look at her outfit. (I'm glad I took off my jacket.) "No Mulder, I just thought I'd be nice and treat you for a change."

At that, he shrugged and turned to a file on his desk. She sat in her chair and held back a sigh. (I spent 3 hours waiting for him so I could ask first thing in the morning and when I had the chance, what did I do, I chickened out. No wonder you're faced with being the last single member of your college group of friends.)

As she booted up her computer, she thought about the way she felt when she opened her mailbox two months ago, finding the invitation to Lisa's wedding. She didn't keep in close contact with any of her old college friends, but they had all attended each other's weddings. There had even been a couple of baby showers. The last wedding had been a few years ago and she and Lisa had still been able to reasonably declare their love of the single life. But now, they were all older, and she was the last.

The day she received that invitation, she resolved that she would not attend alone. Completing the RSVP for two, she sealed and mailed it before she could change her mind. At two months prior to the wedding, her chances for meeting a perspective date were slim to be sure. At one week before, she decided that she would ask Mulder. Of course, deciding and doing were two different things. On Monday, she was sure he would be free, but was unable to ask. Now it was Friday, *the* day before, and even Mulder could have something planned for tomorrow.

(Why don't I just ask him?) She demanded of herself. (Because you're afraid to let him know how insecure you really are, and how much the opinions of others, even those you rarely see, matter to you.) She sighed at the admission, seeing the truth behind it. That was how the whole problem had started. She cared what her friends would think of her loveless life, so she pretended to have a date. Now, she cared too much about what Mulder thought of her, to ask him to bail her out of a silly situation. Another sigh.

"Um, Scully?"

(Oh, shit. He heard me sigh.) "What, Mulder?"

"Is there something bothering you? Did I forget to compliment you on your new outfit or something? If I did, I'm sorry. I noticed though, and I do approve." This last was said with a devilish glint in his eyes.

At that, she just raised her eyebrow at him and glanced at her watch. It was already 11:00 am and she was starving. (Of course you're starving Dana, you haven't eaten anything since 5 am, and that was just yogurt.) Now she knew how to save face.

"Mulder, how about we take off early for a long lunch? I feel like getting out of the basement. I'm sure it's a nice day."

"Sure, Scully. Where to?"

Old Ebbitt Grill
12:42 PM

Scully finished spooning the last of her frozen yogurt into her mouth. (Yogurt, twice in the same day?) She shrugged to herself. She didn't care. It had tasted good and she couldn't resist, what with the weather being so nice and after having lunch on the patio. Besides, it was another way to put off the purpose of the lunch.

"Well, was it worth it?" Mulder asked, breaking her from her euphoria.

She smiled back. "It was worth every dime."

"Oh no. I'm buying. It's the least I can do after getting to watch you eat it."

She felt her face begin to blush and turned her eyes down. (Damn, I hate being a redhead! I better ask him soon though. I'm sure we'll be leaving.) "Um, Mulder?"

"Yeah, Scully."

"Remember this morning -- when you asked me if I needed something from you?" He nodded. "Well...actually... I...uh...lied. I do. I need you to do me a big favor."

"Sure, Scully, anything." His voice and, when she raised her eyes to look at him, his eyes, had softened.

"I'm going to a wedding tomorrow night and I kinda said I would bring a date --"

"Is that all? Scully, you didn't have to buy me lunch so I'd go on a date with you. You could've called me and asked the old-fashioned way."

"It's not that -- I don't mean -- I mean -- I didn't say I was buying!"

Mulder laughed at her flustered response. He covered her hand with his. Now she felt worse for allowing herself to be drawn out by his taunts.

"It's not that simple, Mulder. I don't want you to go as just my date. I want you to pretend to be my fiance." She looked up quickly, just long enough to see the confusion in his eyes. Had she looked longer, she would have seen a flicker of something else. Hope. "There's this group of girls that I hung around with in college, and well, we were pretty close back then. Lately, we haven't seen each other much, but I've been to all their weddings. Well, almost all. Lisa's is tomorrow. After that, I'll be the only one left. The only one who hasn't invited all her old friends to watch her walk down the aisle." Her voice had a sharp tone of sarcasm and a slight twinge of regret.

Mulder didn't know what to say. Here was his partner, his Scully, baring her soul to him and he didn't know what to say. He knew it must've taken alot for her to work up the nerve to ask him this, to let him see her in a vulnerable light. He knew how strong and independent she tried to be. He felt guilty. It was this work, this life, that had kept Scully from getting to the end of the aisle first. He felt guilty not only because it was his work, but also because he dreaded the night when he called her house and she wasn't home, or God forbid, someone else answered. He was happy he didn't have to share her with anyone else.

The silence stretched. "I don't regret any of the choices I've made, Mulder. And, mostly, I'm satisfied with my life and I accept the sacrifices I've made. It's just that I know they won't understand. I know they'll be throwing pitying looks my way when I turn my back and there will be whispers and I don't want that."

He sympathized with his partner. "Okay Scully. Will you marry me? What time do I pick you up for the ceremony tomorrow?"

She turned her eyes down again. "Actually, the wedding's in Harrisburg. I have a room reserved at the Howard Johnson, where the reception is going to be. We have to leave tonight."

"Geez, you could give a guy a little notice." His devilish grin again. "Okay, we'll go back to the office, make an appearance and then I'll head home to pack. I'll pick you up when I'm done." He heard her sigh of relief. "And Scully," she looked up at him. "Are you going to wait until we get there to tell me if it's black tie or not?"

She smiled. "Black tie, Mulder, no little green men. And thanks, I owe you one."

"Do I get to choose how I collect, *dear*?"

Interstate 83 - North
6:03 PM

They spent most of the car ride in an uncomfortable silence. Well, maybe it wasn't uncomfortable for Mulder, but it was definitely awkward for Scully. She was still coping with his new knowledge of her insecurity, the advantage he now held in their relationship.

"So, what's the game plan?" Mulder's voice drew Scully from her thoughts.

"What 'game plan'?"

"Well, they are going to ask questions. How did we meet? When is the big day? How did I propose? Are you knocked up?"

Scully laughed in spite of herself. "Mulder, we want to keep this as simple as possible. We met at work, we haven't set a date yet and no, I'm not 'knocked up'."

"Well, you know, it's not too late to change that last part," he grinned at her. "But you forgot to tell me how I proposed, or was it you who proposed to me?"

Scully let out a frustrated sigh. "I don't know, Mulder. I tell you what. You can just make that part up, just make sure you let me know before you start spreading the story around."

"No problem, Dana." The use of her first name caught her by surprise and she snapped her eyes from the road to look at him. "And, I think if we're engaged to be married, as much as I hate it, you should probably call me Fox."

Howard Johnson Hotel
Harrisburg, PA
8:22 PM

Scully checked them in, completely ignoring Mulder as she realized they would be sharing the same room. Of course, they would have to, to keep up appearances, but she hadn't really thought about her plan that far ahead. (What's your problem, Dana?) She scolded herself. (You're both adults, it's not like there's a problem having both of you in the same room.)

The rest of the evening was uneventful. They ordered room service and watched cheesy movies on the hotel cable channel. Much to her relief, Mulder made himself a bed on the sofa in their room, claiming it was where he would sleep most comfortably anyway.

Scully tucked herself into the bed as he emerged from the bathroom after changing. She tried to hide the smile on her face as she took in his well-muscled form clad only in black boxers. "G'night, Mulder," she murmured, rolling to put her back to him. She closed her eyes feeling the sleep tug at her eyes as she tried to drive away thoughts of the scantily clad man lying less than five feet from her side.

Howard Johnson Hotel
Room 610
June 15, 1996
3:10 PM

Mulder was getting antsy. He hated to just sit around and wait and do nothing for any length of time. He regretted not bringing some files to go over, but he had been too excited over the prospect of spending a weekend with Scully to think about the hours before they went to the wedding. Well, actually, they had already attended the 'wedding', it was the reception that was up next.

The ceremony itself had been pretty standard, according to Mulder. A church, a bride in too much white lace and beads and whatever else they could throw on a dress, and some old ladies crying as the vows progressed. He was pleased that Scully had not been reduced to tears as so many women usually were. It's not that he didn't recognize the weight of the ceremony -- two people confessing their feelings in front of a crowded room, and promising to feel that way, no matter what, forever. He just couldn't understand why people cried over their happiness and their ability to embrace it.

He and Scully had snuck in right in the middle of all the arriving guests, chosen seats in the middle of the church and left afterwards, barely noticed. He was actually grateful for her discretion, because, although he looked forward to playing the role of her lover, he found it difficult to slide into the part at eleven o'clock in the morning after a sleepless night spent trying to not think of her in exactly that way.

"Hey, Scully, what time did you say the reception was at again?" His stomach was growling.

"We have about two hours still," her voice was muffled through the bathroom door. "Why don't you go grab some lunch? I should be finished getting ready by the time you're back. Then the bathroom will be all yours."

"Sure. Do you want me to bring you back something?"

"Yeah, anything. Thanks."

He had deliberately taken his time during lunch, reading the weekend paper from cover to cover, hoping to pass the time quickly. He approached their hotel room, carrying a tuna sandwich for Scully, hoping that it was something she was in the mood for, preparing for another long wait staring at the TV.

He opened the door and almost dropped the package he was carrying.

There, standing before him, had to be the most exquisite creature he had ever laid eyes on. Scully had taken her red locks and twisted them atop her head and little ringlets of hair escaped in places, framing her face, coming around her graceful neck and along her bare shoulder. She wore a deep green dress, so dark it almost looked black, the color setting off her pale skin and flaming tresses. The dress hugged her body, revealing the curve of her hips from her narrow waist. Two thin straps held the dress up from her shoulders, and a brilliant necklace ended in a point that enticingly indicated the direction of the slight cleavage she revealed. The dress was floor length and as she approached him, the movement revealed the slit reaching the middle of her thigh.

"Geez, Mulder, I'm starving. What took you so long?"

He stared at her dumbfounded. "Uh...sorry, I, uh, didn't think you'd be ready. God, you are beautiful."

She smiled at him, glad to see him stammer, to feel as though she had the upper hand, or at least, was equal again. She took the sandwich from him and moved to the table in the corner. "Hurry up, I don't want to be late and it's starts in a half hour."

At this last movement, he noticed a sparkle from her left hand, and he raised an eyebrow at her, looking at the diamond ring nestled there. "I borrowed it from my mother. That would be a pretty big detail to leave out." She bit into the sandwich and he numbly turned and headed for the shower.

Together they walked down the hall towards the elevator. Scully smiled to herself as she felt relieved by the familiar pressure of his hand at the small of her back. The feeling, although familiar, also sent a charge of electricity along her spine -- she had never felt his hand against her bare skin, at least not like this, and she could barely control the small shivers his touch sent through her body.

Mulder, for his own part, was trying to find an excuse to remove his hand once he had performed the habitual movement. Her skin was so soft. It took most of his conscious thought to stop his fingers from slowly caressing that sensuous skin and exploring further the areas both hidden and exposed by the dress -- The dress that hid everything while exposing so much -- The dress that promised so much yet gave so little. He was still getting over seeing Scully in that dress. (I don't know how I'm ever going to pull this charade off with drool hanging off my chin. She should've warned me.) Thankfully, the escape he had been seeking came as they arrived at the elevator. Slowly, he moved his hand from the small of her back to push the call button.

Scully tried to hide the disappointment mingled with relief from her face, while attempting to ease the uncomfortable silence that had emerged at that innocent touch. "So, Mulder, you never told me how you proposed."

"Uh, yeah, I was thinking about that. I think we'll just keep it simple. You know, dinner, candles, champagne, all the bells and whistles."

"Gee, Mulder, I thought I'd be worth a little more creativity than that."

"Well, Scully, you would be, if it were the real thing, but since it's not, I'd rather not reveal any of my secrets." (Hah), he thought, (take that. That's for not warning me about the dress.) "Hey, *Dana*, I thought we were on a first name basis now."

"Actually, I thought about that, and, even if we were engaged, I don't think I'd want to call you by a name you hated. I think I'm going to stick with Mulder, but I kind of like you calling me Dana. It's your call though."

The elevator signaled their arrival at the first floor. "After you, Dana, dear." Mulder waved his arm in front of him with flourish.

Scully giggled. "Let's leave out the dear, okay. It makes me feel like I'm about fifty."

"Your wish is my command." Mulder smiled as she giggled again. He put his hand at the small of her back, again. "Let the show go on, or should I say, begin."

Together, smiles on their faces, they entered the reception hall.

They got through the receiving line without any hassles. Scully simply introduced Mulder to her friends without any preamble. "Hi Lisa, congratulations. This is Fox Mulder. Hello, Rob nice to meet you. I suppose congratulations are in order, or maybe sympathies, considering you're stuck with her for the rest of your life." A smile, light laughter, a couple more handshakes and they were through.

Scully actually breathed a sigh of relief. "Let's find where we're seated."

After finding their seats, Mulder motioned to the bar. "Do you want a drink, Sc...Dana?"

She smiled at his error. "You have a photographic memory, but you can't remember the name of your fiancee. Shame on you, Mulder. I don't think I want anything yet. It'll be hard enough to keep up this ruse without alcohol in the way."

"C'mon Dana, lighten up. Is it really that hard for you to remember that you're hopelessly in love with me, engaged to marry me and here to have the time of your life before you settle down with me to quit your job, and spend most of the next decade barefoot and pregnant?"

This, to Mulder's delight, elicited another giggle. (I never thought I'd hear Dana Scully giggle, let alone more than once in the same night. And, the night is still young.)

"Okay, Mulder, you win. A glass of wine, white zinfandel, if they have it."

Mulder made a face at her too proper choice of drinks. (Wine. Why can't she just let loose a little.)

Upon returning with the drinks, he found her engrossed in conversation with the two couples apparently sharing the table with them. He placed the drink in front of her while taking his seat beside her.

"Thanks, Mulder." She smiled around her glass, taking a drink. "I'd like you to meet Amy and her husband Jeff, and Julie and her husband Mike. This is my fiance, Fox Mulder."

Mulder rose slightly to shake everyone's hand. After greetings were exchanged, Julie leaned towards Dana. "Did you just call him Mulder?"

"It's partly from habit, I guess," she laughed while turning slightly towards Mulder, "we were partners together in the FBI before, well, before. Besides, he hates the name Fox. I couldn't bear to see him cringe every time I called his name. I mean, were not even married yet. I hope it would take a few years before you dread hearing me call your name, *Fox*." She smiled up at Mulder as the table broke into light laughter. (Oh God, are you ever beautiful), she thought to herself. (This is the first time I really looked at him, since before this whole favor thing came about.) She caught herself smiling admiringly as she took in his elegant form in his black tuxedo, the line of his jaw, the laughter in his eyes, and the smile on his full lips. She inhaled deeply, closing her eyes. (What would I give to feel that gorgeous mouth against mine.) She opened her eyes quickly. (Where did that come from?) Then she shook her head to clear her thoughts. (No time for introspection tonight.)

"Gee, I had always cursed my parents for their lack of originality," Jeff mused from the other side of Mulder. "But 'Fox' is definitely not a name I'd relish answering to. Did you ever ask your parents what they were thinking?"

"Actually," he answered, "they *like* the name. Maybe it was hopeful thinking on my mother's part. You know, hoping I'd grow up to be a *Fox*, lucky with the ladies and all that."

Everyone started laughing again. Mulder leaned towards Dana and put his arm around her, pressing a kiss against her ear. "Thanks for sticking with Mulder," he whispered. "I couldn't bear hearing you call me Fox all night." She smiled back at him, taking another drink from her wine.

"Looks like they're getting ready to close down the bar for dinner. Does anyone need a refill?" Mike stood, glancing around the table.

Just about everyone indicated that they did, so Mulder rose. "I'll give you a hand. Dana?" He looked at her questioningly. "The usual?"

She nodded yes. As they left, Amy looked at Jeff and he quickly excused himself. Apparently, it was 'men's work' or at least time for 'girl talk'.

"So, the FBI. That's where you met him. You guys were partners?" Julie had already begun the interrogation Dana had expected.

She glanced toward the bar, seeing that the men would be gone for quite some time. Mike hadn't been the only one to notice the bar trying to close down. "Actually, we still are partners."

"Your boss doesn't have a problem with that?" Amy asked, joining the interrogation.

"No, not really," she lied. Actually, there were rules against this sort of thing, but her two friends didn't know enough about the FBI to know that.

"Don't you find it hard working with him all day and seeing him at night too?"

"Actually, if we didn't work together, then we'd have to go days, even weeks, without seeing each other. And we don't spend all our working time together. There are still times during investigations when it's better if we work apart instead of side by side." (Or times when he just ditches me), she grimaced at the reminder.

"What do you do, in the FBI? I mean, what kind of cases do you investigate?" Julie asked eagerly. "It seems like it would be really exciting, solving crimes, murders, getting the bad guys."

Dana took a deep breath. She hadn't really decided if she wanted to tell the truth about their work. She was afraid they would ridicule Mulder's quest, not realizing how much it meant to him. She was afraid they would think as all the other agents in the bureau did, and snicker to themselves about Mr. and Mrs. Spooky Mulder.

(I can't really reasonably talk about any other division, can I? Besides, Mulder might mistake my lie for embarrassment about our work. I can't do that to him, especially after what he's doing for me.)

Dana realized she had become lost in her private debate and her two friends were looking at her expectantly. "We are in the division called the X-Files," she answered. (Who am I kidding, we *are* the X-Files.)

"The X-Files? What are they?"

"They're unsolved cases," she explained hesitantly. "Cases that can't be solved or explained, possibly, because there is a paranormal or extraterrestrial component to them." She was forming her words carefully.

"Paranormal? You mean like ghosts and aliens and things like that?" Julie asked incredulously.

"Well, sometimes. Sometimes, the people involved think there is alien involvement, when really it is something else entirely. Mostly, Mulder gathers evidence and I work to find some kind of scientific proof that there is no paranormal involvement."

"So, can you tell us about a time when it was aliens? Or a time when they thought it was aliens and it wasn't?" Julie was definitely intrigued by their work.

Scully hesitated, not really sure what cases were definitely solved and safe to discuss. "I haven't really seen any solid proof of alien involvement," she hesitated again. The only case that came to mind that was definitely closed, with no hope of it ever opening again was Donnie Pfaster.

Looking at her expectant friends, she started talking again. "There are alot of cases we can't talk about because they aren't closed. There was this one that we got called to investigate. The local law thought aliens were involved. There had been several dead bodies dug up at a cemetery, their hair cut off and their fingers removed."

Both women gasped. Before they could ask any questions, she continued. "It was actually a fetishist. A sick man who got off on dead women and their body parts: specifically, hair and fingers. We caught him after he had killed his first victim. He started killing to get the dead body parts."

Mulder had come back in time to hear her relating the case to her friends. He put his hand on her shoulder, for comfort. (What made her tell them about that?)

She smiled up at him. "I was just telling them about work. About how some people jump to conclusions and assume there are aliens involved, when in reality it's just your ordinary psychopath."

He could feel the emotion in his eyes as he looked down at her. "It's a good thing we caught him before he got to his second victim." (What an understatement! I don't even want to imagine what would've happened if I hadn't gotten there in time.) He felt tears threaten in his eyes. Blinking them away, he just sat down, not trusting his voice to speak.

The dinner conversation had lightened up again and the dinner progressed smoothly. They had all laughed over each couple's humorous tales of their lives: stories from work and tales of all the cute things two-year-olds could do and say. Mulder and Scully had just finished relating one of their more humorous cases -- the one that took place where all those 'carnies' had set up camp.

"I can't believe it -- it was the Siamese twin -- the one that was just legs sticking out from the guy's body?" Jeff was definitely not a believer. "What did you guys do when you caught him -- I mean how do you cuff something like that?"

"I don't know. I never thought about it while we looked for him, um, it." Scully giggled. Dinner had been long and the two bottles of wine were long gone. She was pretty sure they were all feeling the after effects while debating logistics of handcuffing a separated Siamese twin and its rights to life.

"We never actually caught him," Mulder continued. "But there weren't any more deaths. I guess he just died -- he couldn't live without his brother." He snickered a little.

The first dance for the bride and groom had started and everyone turned to watch the couple dance to their wedding song: 'Here and Now'.

Julie whispered to the table, "you'd think she could have come up with something a little more original. I mean, this is *thee* most common wedding song, probably, of the century."

(That's right), Dana remembered. (She had always been the one to speak her mind, whether they were good or bad thoughts.)

"Well, it is a nice song," Amy commented.

(And Amy could always find the good side of things, without lying.) She smiled to remember all the details of her friends' personalities, surprised that she recalled them so easily.

"Still, it doesn't really have any character," Julie continued her criticism. "I give them two years before they split."

The DJ had started the next song, calling up the parents of the bride and groom and the members of the wedding party.

"I wonder why she didn't ask any of us to stand up for her?" Julie questioned.

"Probably because neither of you asked her to stand up for you, and you hardly talk to each other anymore." Jeff had teasingly put her in her place for her catty behavior.

"So, Dana," Julie turned the conversation to her friend. "When are you two going to do the deed - - and are you going to ask us to take part or just have us criticize you from the background."

Scully could see the humor in her remark, but was suddenly unsure of her response. Her original 'we haven't set a date yet' seemed pretty weak now. "Um, well, we actually haven't made any definite plans yet."

"So you're still in the engagement land of limbo. You know, just one step above the dating land of limbo."

It was a statement, not a question and Dana was reminded of her reasons for her deception in the first place. Even though she had even showed off her ring, there were still questions about her success at this part of life that they had both, so obviously, succeeded at.

Just as she was about to open her mouth, to say what, she had no clue, she heard Mulder's voice above the music. "Our work makes it difficult to make any definite plans in the future. Most likely, we'll just find a break in our case load and take off for a week in the Caribbean and have a small ceremony and honeymoon all in one." He looked down and smiled at the relief plainly evident in her eyes. "We've been very busy since I proposed over -- geez, Dana, it has been six months already, hasn't it?" She nodded dumbly. "Well, I'm sure we'll find time soon." With that, he squeezed her hand and planted a quick kiss on her forehead. "Would you like to dance?"

"I'd love to," she answered. She hadn't even realized that a new song had started and that other couples had begun drifting onto the dance floor. Once she was in his arms and safe from her friends' ears, she thanked him. "You have been the perfect fiance tonight and definitely a good actor," she laughed a little. "I couldn't have come up with that excuse to save my life."

He looked down at her, a stern expression on his face. "Agent Scully, I suggest that you stay in character, lest anyone discover the truth."

She laughed wholeheartedly this time, her head tossing back slightly as she did so. Recovering, she snuggled up close to her partner (don't you mean lover) for the remainder of the song, not even recognizing the melody. (I don't deserve you Fox Mulder, but I'll take you while I can.)

As the song ended, he leaned close to her ear: "Let's grab a drink -- a real one this time."

Almost two hours later, Mulder was sitting back at the table, watching a slightly drunken Dana Scully perform the 'hustle'. Well, actually she was trying her best to keep up with the rest of the pack, but her long dress, high heels and intoxicated state were hampering her abilities somewhat. He laughed to himself taking in the sight of the elegant attire lost in the clumsy movements. (Why is it that people always get so dressed up to make such fools of themselves? If we were smart, we'd all show up for weddings dressed in workout attire.)

Breathless, she returned to the table, plopping down next to him. "I've always wanted to try that dance. I think I finally got it down, too." Her words were slightly slurred, and there was a pleasing flush to her cheeks. She took the drink gratefully from his hands. "How didya ever guess that vodka and seven would be the drink for me?"

"I just know ya better than ya know yourself." He felt the pleasant glow in his face and was grateful that both only had to be coherent enough to stumble to an elevator and down a hall. There would be no need for discretion with the drinks tonight. He and Scully could get pleasantly inebriated and forget all the troubles in their real lives. Tonight they would celebrate life and enjoy it as it was meant to be.

They had settled into a comfortable silence, his arm around her, watching the dance floor. The next song began and he felt Scully tapping her foot to the beat of the music. "Mulder, dance with me, pleeease." She stood, pulling on his hand to get him out of his seat. "I can't just *sit* here all night."

He recognized the song. It was older. 'Some kind of wonderful.' (How am I gonna dance to this?) He grimaced to himself. Once up on the dance floor, he slowly found the rhythm of the music, Scully already moving with the beat. He was seized with the insane urge to pull her close to him, so he did, the alcohol releasing his inhibitions. Quickly, he spun her around and flung her away, only to pull her close again. She laughed, and he released her. He knew the words to this song and began singing along.

"My baby, she's all right. Oooh, my baby, she's plain outta sight. Don't you know that she is, she's some kinda wonderful. Yes she is, she's some kinda wonderful..."

At the start of the chorus, he pulled her close again. His hand was in hers, and his arm was around her waist. He began rocking back and forth, spinning her around crazily. She was laughing nonstop now and he was thrilled. (When had it become my goal in life to make her laugh and where did I learn to dance like this?) He shrugged to himself and continued dancing. He didn't want to think too much, he was having too much fun to analyze it.

The next song started and he recognized the music, although the name of the song escaped him. Scully had caught some of his giddiness and was singing along with the music as well.

"Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you."

She pointed her fingered seductively at him. He used the opportunity to grasp her hand and pull her close again, spinning her around and flinging her back out.

The two couples sitting back at their table chuckled quietly at their antics.

"You know, if they weren't dancing together, they would look like complete fools," Amy commented.

"But they look good together," Julie admitted. "Like they've been doing this a long time."

"So, how long do you give them?"

"I don't know. I'd hate to admit it, but I think it could last awhile."

The last slow song had ended and Mulder and Scully reluctantly said their good-byes. They had had so much fun they were reluctant to leave, subconsciously recognizing that their own lives were rarely this entertaining.

Arms around each other and leaning against one another for support, they waited for the elevator to take them to their room.

Scully sighed. She was not tired and not at all ready to let their glorious night end. Walking down the hall, she giggled as she tripped on an invisible bump in the carpet. Mulder fumbled with the key to their room, dropping it twice, much to his embarrassment and to her glee. After the third failed attempt, he gave up and dropped on the floor next to the key. He pulled her down on his lap.

"Well, Dana, looks like we're sleepin' in the hall tonight."

She grabbed the key and pushed up from him. Concentrating deeply, with two hands on the key, she slid it into the lock. She opened the door and looked triumphantly down at him. "Someone has to get things done 'round here." She strode into the room confidently, only to trip on the shoes left at the door.

He entered the room to find her sitting in a decidedly unladylike position, her left leg exposed by the slit almost to her hip, leaning forward, tongue sticking out from the corner of her mouth, trying to remove her heels.

"Let me help."

She leaned back, her hands behind her back, and looked up at him through her eyelashes. His fingers felt too thick to unbuckle the delicate strap at her ankle.

'Did I tell you how good you look tonight?" Her voice had lowered and the giggle had left.

"In a tux?! All men look alike in these things. Ya sure you're not gettin' me confused with someone else?"

"Oh, I'm sure. And not just in a tux. In just about everythang!" The giggle had returned.

After removing her shoes, he offered his hand to help her up. She accepted and allowed herself to be pulled up, finding herself inches from him. How many times had she stood this close to him tonight? Only now, there wasn't any music, just the sound of his breathing and the beating of her heart. A small alarm went off in the back of her mind, but she dismissed it quickly.

"Mulder..." she breathed his name. Reaching up, she put her arms around his neck, pulling his head closer. She pressed her lips against his, gently at first, then increased their insistence. Her lips parted slightly and she tempted him with her tongue.

"Scully," he moaned. "Is this a good idea?"

"Shhhh. It's a good idea as long as you agree." She kissed him again. "C'mon Mulder, we've got this big bed here. Let's not let it go to waste." The alcohol was giving her a heady daring feeling and she had completely silenced the warnings of rules and regulations from the back of her mind. She pressed herself against him, feeling his body's response to her kiss.

"And I wore this dress just for you, too." She stuck her lip out in a slight pout, pulling away slightly, casting her eyes downward.

The sight of the pose she struck was Mulder's undoing. He eyed her full lower lip and knew he had to feel those lips against his again. He stepped forward, pulling her into his arms. He snagged his fingers in her hair, tilting her lips up towards his, and devoured her in his kiss.

When they pulled apart, both were breathless. Stumbling towards the bed, Mulder turned off the lights as Scully fought with the trappings of his tuxedo. (We should go to weddings in our workout clothes, then this would be alot easier.) Mulder snickered to himself, amazed at the insight of his earlier observation.

Eventually, through many drunken fumblings and passionate kisses, they found themselves both naked and lying side by side in bed. They impatiently explored each other's body, hands trailing everywhere. The passion of a night spent together, and three years, not allowing them the luxury of thorough exploration. Eventually Mulder rolled on top of her, Scully accepting him between her legs. He started to enter her when he painfully realized how much taller he was than her.

She giggled as he bumped his head on the wall at the head of the bed and wriggled down towards the foot. He entered her completely this time and they both moaned in unison. Her whole body quivered from his touch. It had been so long. She realized she wouldn't have long to wait before the pleasure overtook her. She reached up to kiss him, but couldn't reach and settled for biting playfully at his shoulder.

Mulder moaned again. (This isn't going to take much longer if I don't slow down.) He tried to hold back, but quickened his pace as her breathing quickened and her moaning increased. He felt her body spasm around him as she cried out, and then bit down on his shoulder, stifling the cries from her lips. The last bite put him over the edge and he felt the liquid pleasure spread through his body, leaving the tips of his fingers and toes tingling. One last spasm and the liquid pleasure pulsed from his body into hers. A shudder and a sigh and he collapsed down on her.

Quickly, Mulder rolled over, realizing that he was smothering her. He placed his hand on her cheek, turning her face toward him in time to see her satisfied smile. He leaned over her, kissing her thoroughly, exploring her mouth. He pulled away and gazed into her blue eyes.

"I love you, Scully."

"I love you too," she answered, reading the honesty and love in his ever-changing eyes.

Sighing contentedly, she rolled on her side, pressing her back against his chest, reveling in the feel of his warm embrace, and fell quickly asleep.

The end for now.

"Dear Diary: My heart leapt when Agent Scully suggested Spontaneous Human Combustion."

Title: About Last Night -- A Favor for Scully II
Author: Scarlet Scully
Rating: PG (reference to sex, no graphic descriptions)
Classification: SRA
Spoilers: none
Keywords: Mulder/Scully Romance
Disclaimer: I don't own them. They belong to Chris Carter and the folks at Ten Thirteen. Thanks for making a world I can play in.

Summary: Mulder and Scully confront each other about the events of the night before. Sequel to A Favor for Scully.

Author's notes: This story takes off from my first story "A Favor for Scully". However, you don't have to read it to understand this story now, so I guess this qualifies as a 'stand alone'. Personally, I think it's worth reading, but of course I would. I wrote it. The two songs quoted are by Jewel. But don't fear, this is not a songfic, they are more a function of the background than anything else.

Thanks and enjoy.

Howard Johnson Hotel
Harrisburg, PA
June 16, 1996
10:16 AM

Scully could feel herself being drawn into the waking world, slowly. She resisted, realizing the waking world could never feel as good as the sleeping one. Her body resisted and as she came fully awake, the first thing she was aware of was the awful taste in her mouth and the incredible pounding in her head.

Reality slowly assembled as she was pulled further from her drunken slumber. The second awareness that assaulted her was that she was lying naked in bed and she was not alone.

Twisting in bed, she came face to face with her partner, still fast asleep. The scrambled events of the previous night slowly came into focus. Bits and pieces assembling until she had a fairly clear picture of all that had transpired.

She remembered drinking. Alot. And dancing with Mulder. She smiled as her mind's eye replayed their antics on the dance floor at her friend's wedding. The wedding where she had asked Mulder to pretend he was her fiance to impress her friends. It had worked. Their plan had worked marvelously and she had had so much fun.

She remembered the shivers that ran up and down her spine each time his hand brushed her bare skin. How she had tried to control those feelings. The chemistry between them was too strong, much stronger than the will of a drunken woman who longed to be touched by the man before her.

Her memories grew fuzzier as the night grew later. She remembered falling when she came into the hotel room. He helped her take off her shoes and helped her up. They were standing so close. She kissed him. (I kissed him. It was my idea.) She teased him, taunted him until he couldn't take it anymore. Then they were naked in bed. She smiled slightly as she recalled the clumsiness of their lovemaking, movements impaired by their drunken state.

(He said that he loved me. Did he mean it? I told him that I loved him too. I meant it, didn't I? Did he?)

She didn't know. Maybe Mulder told that to all his conquests. (Who are you kidding? All his conquests -- the only person with fewer dates than Mulder is you.) But still, it had been said in a drunken stupor and in that post-orgasmic haze all men find themselves in immediately after sex. She couldn't conclude if he meant it or how he meant it, so she filed it to the back of her mind where she could store it until her thoughts were clearer.

Her immediate thoughts were to get out of bed. She was thirsty and needed to use the washroom desperately. Her next step was to find some clothes.

Slowly, she rolled out of bed, desperate not to wake her sleeping partner. Feeling much better after having relieved herself and brushed her teeth, she went back into the bedroom to put on some clothes. She hurriedly dressed in a t-shirt and boxers. Glancing at the clock, she realized that they would have to check out in the next hour and a half and, despite her reservations, decided to wake Mulder. (I'll have to wake him eventually. Might as well face up to the music.)

"Mulder," she spoke softly while gently shaking his shoulder. He moaned softly, but continued sleeping.

"C'mon, Mulder. Time to get up." She had raised her voice slightly this time and he opened his eyes.

"Mornin' Scully." His voice slurred with sleepiness. He looked sweet at that moment, all vulnerable and unguarded. Scully felt her chest squeeze with emotion. (He trusted me. He came here as a favor for me. He's my partner and my best friend and I took advantage of that and jeopardized it.)

As she regarded her partner, she felt disgusted with herself and what she had done to their relationship. She had said that she loved him, yet she had cheapened their relationship with a night of tawdry sex. (It wasn't cheap sex, was it?) She didn't know. She couldn't remember. It left her feeling uneasy. (Nothing good usually comes from impulsive acts by drunken players.)

Mulder was still looking at her and she realized that she hadn't spoken. "Morning. I was, uh, going to order some room service, unless you want to stop for something on the way home." She realized he was still half asleep by the puzzled look on his face. "We have to check out soon, Mulder. It's 10:30. I was going to take a shower, unless you want to go first."

Mulder looked at his partner and full realization hit him. (She regrets what happened last night.) "No Scully. You can have the first shower. I'll wait. And it's probably better if we just grab something for the drive."

He was about to get up when he noticed that she turned around quickly. Then he remembered his lack of clothing. He sat back in the bed and watched her back as she hurried into the washroom, pausing only for a moment to grab a change of clothes.

He sighed to himself. (Talk about a rude awakening, in more ways than one.)

Interstate 83 - North
12:32 PM

The rest of the morning was spent in uncomfortable silence. They had managed to sneak out of the hotel without running into any of the other guests, especially those from the wedding of the previous night. Mulder was driving, trying to ignore the pounding of his head, which was only aggravated by the glare of the afternoon sun. Scully sat huddled against the passenger door, staring out the window, a bagel sitting untouched on her lap.

Mulder's mind was reeling, trying to find a way to rescue their friendship. It was obvious at this point that his only hope was for a friendship with Scully. He remembered telling her that he loved her last night. He had meant it and he believed her when she returned the sentiment, but now he realized that she didn't mean it. She had only voiced the words because she felt she had to, for his sake. As much as he hoped for a more intimate relationship with his partner, he wasn't willing to sacrifice their current friendship. Especially now, when it seemed perfectly clear that she wanted no part of such a relationship.

"Scully," he broke the silence between them. "I think we need to talk."

Scully, dreading this conversation, attempted to avoid it a little longer: "About what, Mulder?"

"About what happened, last night." He paused and drew in a deep breath.

Scully seized the opportunity created by his hesitation. (I couldn't bear to hear him voice his refusal of me out loud.) "Mulder, I think it's best if we just forget this ever happened. We were drunk. It had been a stressful night. We just got carried away in our roles. We got so caught up in pretending we were in love, that, for one night we believed it."

She was surprised at how easily the excuses rolled off her tongue, not knowing where they came from or how they had been so easily created. (Probably by the same part of my mind that keeps creating excuses for my feelings for Mulder.) She stopped short at the thought. What were her feelings for Mulder? Weren't they just feelings of deep friendship? Didn't they just come from years of working closely with someone you trusted and respected? (And someone who looked like a 'fox'?) She giggled.

Mulder, who had not responded to her answer, still contemplating his own thoughts on the previous night, was startled by her sudden giggle. "What's so funny?" he asked.

"Oh, nothing. I was just thinking about last night."

"Oh." His voice betrayed his confusion and embarrassment.

Realizing that her words had been misunderstood, Scully clarified: "I was just remembering what you said about your name and your mom hoping that you'd grow up to be a fox. That's all."

"Oh." Mulder was relieved that she hadn't actually been giggling about the events of later in the night, especially him, or any part of him, when 'it' happened.

They continued to drive in silence until Mulder spoke again. "Scully, I hope you meant what you said, about last night. I mean, I hope that our friendship, um, I guess I'm just trying to say that I hope nothing changes."

He paused. When she didn't respond, he pressed on: "You're my best friend and I'd hate for this to come between that."

"Don't worry, Mulder. Nothing will change." Scully tried to hide the disappointment in her voice, resulting in her words sounding harsh. (Oh well), she thought, (I don't care if I was too rough on him, my head hurts, I'm tired and I just want to go home.)

Mulder, not too reassured by her response, decided to let the matter rest, for now. They spent the remainder of the ride in silence. Scully fell asleep staring out the window, leaving Mulder to his thoughts. He was definitely not reassured that their lovemaking hadn't affected their relationship and vowed to bring it up again in the next couple of days.

FBI Headquarters
Washington, DC
June 17, 1996
8:15 AM

Scully arrived at their office Monday morning to find Mulder already hard at work. (As per usual.) She hesitated in the doorway a moment. (I don't know if I can do this), she admitted to herself. (C'mon Dana. You're a big girl now. You played the game, now deal with the consequences.) She took a deep breath. "Good morning, Mulder."

"Mornin' Scully. I hope you slept well."

(Not as good as I would have with you beside me.) Scully banished the unbidden thought to the back of her mind. "Yep. You?"

"Well, you know me."

She went across the room and got herself a cup of coffee. Sitting at her desk, she was surprised to see that Mulder had not turned back to the case file he had been reading when she arrived. Realizing he had been waiting for her to get settled, she looked at him, eyebrow raised, questioning.

"We have a case," he stated calmly. Too calmly, after all this was Mulder and he usually got so excited with every new case. She continued to look at him, the expression on her face urging him to continue with the details.

"There have been a series of occurrences that seem to have led someone to believe that black magick forces are at work."

"Mulder, there is no such thing as magic. Magic is simply the product of superior coordination, slight of hand and special props."

"Scully, I agree with you about most magic, the kind that entertains children at birthday parties. That's not what we're talking about here." He handed a file to her, careful not to let their fingers touch in the exchange. "This is black magick, magick practiced for evil purposes or in league with evil spirits."

Scully flipped through the file, pausing only briefly on the gruesome photographs bearing images of a young woman strapped to a table. "Other than the obvious evidence of acts committed by some sick individual, I don't understand why we received this case. There's no reason for this to be an x-file."

"Keep reading, Scully. There's more."

Scully continued to read, but failed to find anything indicating black magick or magic of any type for that matter and indicated as much to her partner.

"Just look at the picture. The woman is being used as an altar. There are candles still burning on her body. Photographs rest on her stomach and there were locks of hair found at the scene."

"It still sounds to me like some sick perp did this to this poor woman. Nothing more."

"But there is more." Mulder was enjoying the familiarity of debating with his partner, and the distraction it provided from the events of the previous weekend. "This woman's husband died unexplainably, within hours of her death."

Scully looked at him, a loss for words.

Mulder pushed ahead. "The pictures are of him. There was an effigy..."

"A what?"

"An effigy, a doll, sort of like a voodoo doll. There was an effigy covered in blood with scissors through the body. All of these things are evidence of black magick rituals."

"Practiced by whom, Mulder? And why?"

"That's what we're going to find out." He dropped the two plane tickets on the desk. "Our flight to San Francisco leaves at noon. Can you be ready by then?"

"Uh, yeah." (Oh no. Not now. I can't go away with Mulder on a case right now. I need more time. I need to be able to go home by myself and think.) Scully sighed at her bad luck, recognizing now why her partner hadn't been too excited over the new case.

"I, uh, know that you hate travelling, but..." (But what, you idiot. You're going anyway.) "At least we're actually travelling to a city with an airport."

She laughed while gathering her things. "Pick me up at 10:30, okay?"

Gateway Motel
San Francisco, CA
2:04 PM (PT)

The flight to San Francisco went smoothly. Mulder had slept peacefully while Scully, grateful at the lack of conversation, perused the case file. They picked up their rental car and checked in to the motel without incident. Scully was just finishing unpacking when there was a knock at her door. Opening the door, she found Mulder at the other side. "I just spoke to the local PD and they said we could come down today."

She quickly grabbed her notepad and badge and they were on their way.

"I'm trying to arrange for you to do the autopsy on both bodies."

"I thought it was pretty clear what had killed the woman."

"Well, yeah, but..."

"But what?"

"I was hoping you could do what you do best, you know, work some of that Scully magic, and find some intriguing detail that the local coroner might have missed." Mulder smiled at her slightly.

Scully sighed. "A complete autopsy on both bodies? If you think it's necessary." (At least it will keep me busy,) she thought to herself. She realized that if this case hadn't come along though, they would still be tripping over 'it' in the office. At least this seemed to have helped them move on.

At the police department, Scully felt herself fade into the background. She kept drifting off, unbidden thoughts of Mulder and their night together jumping into the forefront of her mind. Her memory had been slowly improving and now she was recalling vivid images of their lovemaking. The feel of him inside her, the taste of his skin as she bit playfully at his shoulder, the way her heart jumped in her throat when they kissed.

"Scully?" Mulder's voice invaded her thoughts.

"Huh, what? I'm sorry, what were you saying?"

"Tomorrow morning. How does that sound for you?" Scully looked at him blankly and Mulder realized that she had not been paying attention to his conversation with the police officer at all. "Detective Brooks said that he can arrange for you to perform the autopsies first thing tomorrow morning."

"Oh, yeah, sure. No problem." She followed Mulder out to the car silently, embarrassed by her lack of attention. After a couple of minutes, she realized that they weren't headed back to their motel.

Hesitantly, she asked: "Mulder, where are we going?"

Mulder regarded his partner, concern in his eyes. "Scully, we're going to check out the crime scene. Didn't you hear anything that we said in there?"

"Sorry. I, uh, I'm just not feeling well. I have a headache."

"I can drop you off at the motel and do this myself."

"No. I'll be fine. Let's get this over with."

Two hours later, Scully flopped on the bed in her motel room. She could hear the faint sounds of the TV from the room next door and smiled to herself. It had been a long, demanding day. They had gone over the crime scene where the 'altar' had been with a fine tooth comb. Then, on a whim, they had traveled to the victims' home to search through the scene where the man was found. All along, Scully was conscious of the closeness of her partner, the scent of his after shave, the shape of his ass when he took off his suit jacket. She wanted to scream.

(Why can't I control myself? My mind? My body? My heart?) She realized that she was having these problems because she meant what she said the night of the wedding. She loved him. That was why she couldn't get him out of her mind, why she couldn't concentrate and why her heart started beating a little faster when she was close to him. (When did this happen and why didn't I see it before?)

She lay silent in her bed, her mind turning frantically, trying to find answers. She decided that it had happened the day she had met him and not until the night of the wedding. It made no sense but perfect sense all at the same time. She had been physically attracted to him (Who wasn't?) since the day she first laid eyes on him. She was attracted to his mind and the mental leaps it was able to make. She loved his passion and conviction and dedication to those things he deemed important. This attraction had gradually developed over their years of working together. But it wasn't until the night of the wedding, that's when she realized that they could spend a whole day together, completely unrelated to work, and converse and have fun like 'normal' people do.

"So it took 3 years for me to fall in love with him or 3 years to realize that I already loved him." (I don't know. What's the difference? Who cares?) "I care," she admitted quietly. A slow tear traced a silent path down her face. "But he doesn't."

There was a knock at her door, followed by Mulder's voice.

"Scully? Can I come in?"

Wiping the tear quickly from her cheek, she got up from the bed and opened the door. He walked in past her, noting that all the lights were off.

"Oh, sorry. Were you trying to sleep? Is your headache still bothering you?"

She was about to ask 'what headache?' when she recalled their conversation in the car earlier. Instead, she shook her head and shrugged her shoulders at the same time.

Mulder laughed. "That sure, huh? Well, you should be hungry. Neither of us have had much to eat today. Do you want to order something in, or would you rather go out to eat?"

Mulder waited for her to make up her mind, praying that she wouldn't announce that she wasn't feeling well enough to do either and order him out of her room. It had taken him a good 45 minutes to work up the nerve to come over to her room. She had been acting strangely all day. Even now, she looked like a lost child, vulnerable and in need of comforting. He put his hands in his pockets to physically fight the urge to wrap his arms around her and tell her it was all right. The trouble was, it was not all right. Every time he stood near her, he remembered the feel of her body against his, the touch of her lips, the scent of her skin. He longed to fall asleep again as they had that night, his arms circling her body, her back pressed against his chest, her head tucked beneath his chin. He had never slept so soundly and probably never would again.

"Mulder?" Her voice snapped him from his reverie. "I said 'I'll just get changed and then we can go.'" She looked at him pointedly and he realized that she was waiting for him to leave so she could change. He closed the door behind him as he left, leaning his head against it with a light thump. (Thank God she wanted to go out. I don't think I could've handled sitting close to her in the privacy of a motel room for any length of time.)

Scully found herself practically running from the car back to her motel room door. She had thoroughly enjoyed dinner with Mulder right up to the point where she realized that she was enjoying herself. Then her depression returned. That's what she was calling it now: her depression. A self-induced depression starting from the moment she recognized that she was in love with Mulder, but at the same time, also knew that she couldn't enjoy a relationship with him. Tonight's dinner just further reinforced these facts. They had gone to a small pub, ordered deli-style sandwiches and beers and quietly conversed much of the night away. But then she remembered her earlier sorrow and her feelings of loss and things became awkward again. It wasn't much longer before they were headed back to their perspective motel rooms.

Mulder fell against the door to his motel room, forcing it shut. (What happened tonight?) he wondered. (Scully had been like her old self at the pub, but then all of a sudden she clammed right up.) He sighed aloud as he flicked on the TV. Maybe it had been for the better, their evening ending the way it had. He had been aching to reach out and kiss her lips, touch her cheek or hold her hand all night long. The sudden awkwardness had given them each an excuse to end the evening early, saving him from making a fool of himself again. (You already know she's not interested in you that way. Why push it?) Mulder sighed again. (A few more beers and I probably would have chased her into her room, demanding a second chance.)

The following morning, both were quiet during the drive to the county morgue. Mulder, waking early, had taken the time to get them both coffee and muffins for breakfast. Each ate silently, grateful for the excuse to avoid conversation provided by the food.

Arriving at the morgue, Mulder guided Scully inside with a habitual application of pressure at the small of her back. Scully jumped at the contact and Mulder quickly removed his hand, swearing at himself for crossing the newly established 'no-touch' boundaries. Once everything was all settled for Scully, he announced that he would return around noon to take her to lunch.

"Where are you going?" Scully, still uncomfortable, found herself snapping at her partner.

"I'm going to do some leg work. See if I can pick up some information as to who might have killed the woman." He paused, then added: "If you finish up here sooner, just call me and you can give me a hand."

She nodded, embarrassed by her uncalled for anger. Soon after Mulder left, she dove into the autopsy of the young woman. "The victim is a female, aged 27, body weight approximately 135 pounds..."

A little over an hour later, Scully was finished with the first autopsy and having the second body prepared. (That was the easy one. Just as I expected. Nothing unusual to report, although, just for you Mulder, I sent away blood for a toxicology report.) Concluding her report, she added: "It appears my initial suspicions were correct, barring any disputing evidence from toxicology. The victim died of suffocation, most likely by a pillow or some other similar means. The only other injuries to note were bruises on the ankles and wrists where the victim was apparently tied to the table and superficial burns where the candles rested. Due to the absence of any other significant injuries, I believe that the victim was anesthetized, probably with chloroform and then secured to the table before being murdered."

After taking a quick coffee break, the second autopsy began. Almost two hours later, Mulder arrived for lunch only to find Scully still elbows-deep in her examination. Half an hour later, Scully emerged, looking tired and frustrated. Before discussing any of her findings, she demanded to be taken to lunch.

"Look Mulder, my stomach is growling and my feet are aching. I'm not telling you a damn thing until I'm seated with some form of sustenance in front of me."

Mulder flashed a sly grin and acquiesced: "You're the boss, Scully."

"Well, actually, Mulder, you are, but if you're going to promote me that easily, well then, I'll take it."

Seated in a diner, buttering her roll, Scully informed Mulder of her findings in the autopsy of the female victim.

"And..." Mulder probed. "What about the husband?"

"Mulder, I have to confess, I can't tell you what killed that man."

"Okay, I can accept that, but what did you find?"

"That's just it Mulder. There was nothing unusual about that body. The only unusual thing is that he is dead."

"What do you mean by that?"

"There was nothing wrong with him. Nothing wrong with any of his organs, his cells, his blood vessels, nothing. Excluding the fact that his heart stopped beating, that man would be alive right now. There was no stress showed in the heart muscle. I dissected his brain and found nothing wrong there. I've never seen a dead body in such perfect condition in all my years of practice or study for that matter. That man is an organ donor program's dream come true."

"You sent away for blood work though. Maybe he was poisoned or had an allergic reaction or something like that." Mulder suggested.

"You're right. I did send his blood away for testing, but poisonings and allergic reactions still yield evidence in the body, especially when they result in death. Like I said, I can't tell you or even begin to tell you why that man died."

The waitress arrived with their meals, looking decidedly uncomfortable at the conversation she had just interrupted. Over a mouthful of lettuce, Scully managed to ask Mulder what he had turned up.

"The husband may have been having an affair. The woman I talked to said that she thought that his mistress was a witch."

"A witch, Mulder?" Scully laughed so suddenly that her mouthful of salad almost landed in Mulder's plate. Recovering, she continued: "Tell me you aren't thinking along those lines. I mean, this is San Francisco. There are some unique people in this city."

"Well, Scully, actually I am considering it as a possibility. We still have to remember the ritual evidence found at the crime scene and it might help to explain how the husband died."

"How would that explain how the husband died. I understand why she would want to kill the wife - you know, get her out of the way. But I think the motive behind that death would be so she could have her lover all to herself."

"I spoke with a friend of the husband and he not only confirmed that the husband was having an affair, but that he had told his wife about it and intended to leave his mistress. You never know what a woman scorned is capable of, do you?"

Scully playfully tossed a chunk of her roll at him, a look of disgust on her face at his joking remark. "I think we're getting way ahead of ourselves. In all your enlightening conversations today, did you happen to find out the name of this alleged witch?"

"Actually, I did. We're going to talk to her after lunch."

"Oh, I hope she has a pool. Maybe we can throw her in and see if she floats - just like in the good ol' witch hunt days in Salem."

Scully and Mulder discussed the details of their interview with the mistress while driving back to the motel. She had Mulder convinced that she was innocent of the crimes. Scully, however, was less inclined to dismiss her as their primary suspect.

"I don't know why, Mulder. I just think she might have done it, or at least played some part in it."

"C'mon, Scully. She was completely shocked once we told her what had happened. She had an alibi for the time surrounding the death."

"An alibi we haven't yet checked out." Scully quickly pointed out. Taking a deep breath, she continued: "Let's just go back to your original theory, just for argument's sake. Let's say you were right and that black magick was involved..."

"Scully, you're not..."

"Just hear me out for a minute, okay Mulder?" Pausing briefly, she persisted: "Then, you believed that this woman killed the wife and used her body in some kind of dark ritual that resulted in the husband's death. That's what originally had your interest in this case, right?" Mulder nodded silently. "Okay. So, if you believed that this woman was a witch, and she could cast spells resulting in the death of a perfectly healthy man, why can't you entertain the idea that she may have cast a spell so that we would believe her story, without question and move on to find another suspect?"

Mulder sat silently pondering Scully's questions. Why hadn't he thought of that? And, why hadn't he thought about checking her alibi? He had accepted her story unquestioning. (Hey, Scully's considering an extreme possibility!) He smiled inwardly.

After getting no response from Mulder, Scully decided: "Let's just not rule her out yet, okay? We'll call Detective Brooks and have him bring her in for an official statement and fingerprints. I got hair and fiber samples from the wife, maybe something will come up there, or maybe the fingerprint team found prints at the crime scene."

They had been sitting in the car in front of their room doors for the last five minutes of their discussion. Scully declaring that she was tired, exited the car and fled to the sanctuary of her room. She felt emotionally exhausted, drained from keeping her mind and heart under control during a long day of interacting with Mulder. (At least we haven't tripped over 'it' since this morning.)

Later, Mulder ordered in pizza and joined her in her room as she began typing the second autopsy report. She sat at the table, distractedly eating and typing at the same time, while Mulder sat on the bed, poring over the details from the first report. He found the report boring though. It didn't reveal any pertinent information that he hadn't already learned from Scully. He found himself staring repeatedly at his partner, admiring the push of her breasts against the white cotton of her t-shirt and the shape of her legs stretching down from the boxer shorts she wore. He remembered fondly the feel of her breasts pushed against his chest and her legs wrapped around his body. Allowing the fantasy to continue further than he intended, he returned from his daydream, hard and dismayed at his decision to change into jogging pants before coming over.

"Uh, Scully, this isn't getting us anywhere but tired. I'm going to bed. We can go to the station tomorrow morning and see if anything turned up. G'night."

Before she could even rise from her chair, he was out the door, closing it quickly behind him. Frowning at his hasty exit, Scully returned to her computer, deciding to finish the report before turning in for the night.

Gateway Motel
June 18, 1996
4:27 PM

Later, the next day, Scully found herself alone in her motel room, working at her laptop, again. Only now, she was concluding her report on the case, rather than the autopsy. It appears that the 'witch' was indeed responsible for the death of the wife. Her fingerprints were found on the woman's body and the photographs found at the scene. Hair and fiber samples found at the scene matched the samples taken from the 'witch's' house. There was evidence found at her house indicating that she may have been intrigued by, or even practiced witchcraft. However, she has not admitted to any involvement in the death of her lover. Considering the complete lack of physical evidence, witnesses or any other sign of wrongdoing, the case in that respect will remain unsolved. Scully found it ironic that the complete lack of unusual circumstances surrounding the man's death has merited it a place in the filing cabinet filled with nothing but unusual circumstances.

Mulder, of course, still believes that the witch killed the man. (Funny, I'm still not willing to write the man's death off as something unexplainable, even though I'm the one who convinced Mulder of the very thing he now believes.) Scully shrugged to herself. She knew she couldn't prove him wrong and didn't care if he chose to believe in extreme possibilities. How could she fault him in this instance, when it was the only explanation either of them could come up with?

Sighing out loud, Scully shut down her lap top, glancing at the clock. Their flight was not leaving until tomorrow at noon. It was the first available flight they could get. She wasn't sure what she was going to do from now until then. One thing she knew for certain, she couldn't spend the evening with Mulder, especially now that the case was closed. She needed to spend the evening alone with her thoughts. She needed to analyze her feelings, justify them and shove them back to the corner of her mind. Maybe then she could live day to day without her depression forcing itself on her. Maybe then she could work side by side with her partner without the constant reminder of what would never be. Maybe then she could salvage their friendship.

Knowing that if she stayed in her room, he would certainly stop by so they could get dinner or something, Scully decided to go out. She left a quick note so he wouldn't worry and their adjoining door unlocked so he could find it. She didn't tell him where she went because she didn't know where that was yet. (It's better than he's ever done for me.) She smiled, satisfied in the role reversal she had inadvertently orchestrated. For once, she was ditching him.

6:00 PM

It was dark and smoky and a woman's melancholic voice filled the air. It was the music that had drawn Scully. (Why is it that when we feel bad, we always try to keep feeling bad, wallow in it?) She shook her head. She didn't know and her thinking was becoming satisfyingly fuzzy after only her second drink. Fuzzy enough that she found it easier to dismiss the thought than pursue it. A waitress came and placed a third in front of her.

"Did you decide yet?" She asked, annoyed.

"Huh? Oh yeah, dinner, right." She looked at the woman guiltily. She still hadn't opened the menu, she had been so lost in thought. Handing the menu back, she said: "Can I just get some fries? Thanks."

She knew she should probably order something more substantial and healthier, but she didn't feel like doing what she should. She was already doing one good thing by avoiding Mulder tonight. All she really wanted to do was run back to their motel and try 'it' for a second time. Although her memories of the night of the wedding had improved, she still had trouble remembering the whole event. She wanted a crisp memory. At least if it was the only time she would get to enjoy it, she would be able to relive it whenever she wanted. The practical part of her realized that a vivid memory would only worsen her current dilemma, but she yearned for it anyway.

How she longed to hear him tell her he loved her again. She remembered the huskiness in his voice as he said the words she now held in her heart. Closing her eyes, she relived the moment in her mind, his eyes so beautiful as they looked deep into hers. She opened her eyes slowly. She imagined she could see honesty and hope in his eyes, but she knew the mind was a dangerous thing and it could easily play games with the heart.

The singer's voice penetrated Scully's thoughts: Please don't say I love you
Those words touch me much too deeply And they make my core tremble
Don't think you realize the effect you have over me
And please don't look at me like that It just makes me want to make you near me always
Please don't kiss me so sweet
It makes me crave a thousand kisses to follow
And please don't touch me like that It makes every other embrace seem pale and shallow
Please don't come so close
It makes me want to make you near me always

The song continued but Scully tried to ignore it. Tears were streaming down her face despite her attempts to control them. Embarrassed, she ducked her head as the waitress approached her table with a plate of fries. She mumbled a quick word of thanks without raising her head, thankful that she had opted to run a tab. The song finished and Scully used a napkin to wipe at her tears. Looking up, she noticed a tall man enter. He scanned the room from the entrance and Scully recognized the familiar movements. She ducked her head quickly, praying the darkness of the room would hide her identity from her partner. Unfortunately, by hiding her face she could not watch him. She briefly thought of fleeing to the washroom, but knew the movement would be noticed easily. She glanced up slightly, just in time to see his long legs moving in her direction.

"Hey, Scully. I got your note and thought you might want some company. You should've stopped in before you left. I had a hell of a time finding you." Mulder pulled up a chair across from her.

Scully was tempted to ask why he bothered trying and then thought about telling him that if she wanted company, she would have asked. (He's not stupid. He knew I left to be alone, but he came after me anyway. He probably wants to talk about 'it'.)

They sat in silence for several minutes. Mulder staring at Scully, hoping she wasn't too angered at his invasion of her space. He knew she wanted to be alone, but he also knew that they needed to work things out. If it didn't it may cost them their friendship and their partnership. What he couldn't understand was her behaviour. If she truly believed that they had a friendship worth salvaging, why was she avoiding him at all costs?

Scully was conscious of him staring at her and she stared at her plate, avoiding his eyes and hiding the evidence of her earlier tears. Scully, giving an excuse for her silence, ate her fries, still not looking up. The singer's voice filling the silence between them:

Please let me forget all those sweet smiles
All of the passion
All of the heat, the peace, the pain
And all those blue skies
Where your words were my freedom
Please, don't let me fall in love with you again

A tear escaped, slowly weaving its way down Scully's cheek. She wiped at it quickly, knowing either way Mulder would know she had been affected by the song.

"Scully," Mulder broke the silence, his voice husky with emotion. "We need to talk."

Scully felt her heart break at the sound of his voice. It was the same tone she imagined when he told her he loved her that night. She took a deep breath, still not looking at him. "I can't talk about it right now, Mulder. I came here to be alone because that's what I need."

She had barely whispered the words and Mulder had to lean forward to hear them. In doing so, he could see her tear-stained face that was previously hidden by her hair and the lack of light.

"Please Scully, don't do this. Don't let this come between us like this. I need you in my life Scully." He took a deep breath. Reaching out, he lifted her chin so she was forced to look at him. At that point he made a decision. "I told you that night that I loved you. I love you enough to put my feelings aside. I don't know how I could keep doing this without you by my side."

Pausing, he searched for more words, for something more to say, to make her talk to him and tell him what she was thinking. Her eyes had turned liquid with unshed tears.

"Do you mean that? Do you really mean what you said?"

"Of course, I do Scully, all of it."

"I didn't think you meant it." She stumbled on her words, still afraid of her feelings. "When I woke up and remembered, I didn't know if you meant it. I wasn't sure. We both had so much to drink."

"Scully, I would never lie to you, not about that, not like that. In the morning, the way you acted, I thought you regretted it."

"I did. But the more I thought about it, the more I faced it with you every day, the more I knew that the only reason I regretted it was because it made me face my feelings for you, the ones I buried deep inside."

Mulder smiled slightly. "So you mean the only reason we're in here, crying in our," he paused, glancing at her glass, "your vodka and seven and my, well the service is slow in here, is because we got our lines crossed. I've been fighting my feelings and you've been fighting yours, but we both want the same thing."

"But, can we really have it Mulder? There are rules and there are people who could use us against one another were we..."

"Those are excuses, Scully. I think, if we really want this, we can find ways around them. We'll be careful, so that no one finds out. Or we'll tell the whole world. If you want this, we can do it. I know it."

"I want it Mulder. With you."

They stayed in the bar late into the night, talking and enjoying one another's company. Afterwards, they returned to the motel, spending the night in Scully's room.

This time, their second time, their lovemaking was slower, less rushed. They took their time, exploring every inch of one another's body with hands, lips, and tongues. This time their movements were less clumsy, less encumbered by alcohol and nervousness. This time the passion flowed from their hearts through their bodies and encompassed them with its power. This time, they woke in the morning light and faced the person who loved them, certain of their feelings. They woke together and enjoyed the warmth of the body pressed against them.

They made love again, a little more quickly than the night before. The exploration completed, they knew the other's body well. Scully had snuggled against Mulder's chest and her breathing indicated she had fallen back asleep.

"Dana? Scully?" He spoke softly into her ear, while gently shaking her.

"Mmmm. Mulder?"

"We have to get up. I hate to say it, but we do. We have a plane to catch."

Scully opened her eyes, to find him looking down at her. "Okay, I'm up." She slid her body against his as she raised herself to kiss him softly on the lips. Parting for a moment, she kissed him again, more passionately. "Care to join me in the shower?"

Not waiting for an answer, she strode into the bathroom, nothing covering her naked form.

(Who can refuse an offer like that?) Mulder thought, while rising to chase after her, deciding that if they kept this up, they may never leave San Francisco.

The End. For now.

Title: A New Beginning - A Favor for Scully III
Author: Scarlet Scully
Rating: PG
Classification: SRA
Spoilers: none
Category: Mulder/Scully Romance
Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters of this glorious show belong to CC and the folks at Ten Thirteen. Thanks for creating a world I can play in. Also, I have no ownership over the book "The Princess Bride", nor over the movie "Phenomenon". If the owner's of the copyrights to both of these agree that I do not need to pay them in order to mention their works, then I will agree that they have no obligation to pay me for the advertising.

Summary: Mulder and Scully find new life in more ways than you can imagine. Third story in the "A Favor for Scully" series.

Author's Notes: For those of you who have read the first two stories in this series, thanks for enjoying them and encouraging me to continue with all of your generous feedback. For those of you who are just jumping in now, welcome aboard. This story qualifies as a stand alone, but I think it's worth reading the first two to find out how we got here.

Okay, I've babbled enough already -- JUMP IN!

Mulder's Apartment
Alexandria, VA
October 10, 1996
6:00 PM

Mulder tossed his coat on the chair as he quietly closed his apartment door. He smiled inwardly as he stepped over the tiny shoes in the doorway. Entering the living room, he stopped himself from calling out Scully's name. (Just in time.) A tender smile spread across his features as he draped a blanket over her tiny frame. Scully, oblivious to his presence, continued sleeping.

(She must've finished her errands sooner than she planned), he thought to himself, remembering their earlier conversation. They had finished the paperwork on their latest case and she said that she had a lot of running around to do and headed home early.

Mulder hadn't actually expected to see her tonight, but welcomed the pleasant surprise. (Even if she only came here to crash on my couch.) He busied himself at his desk, looking over the files he had brought home. His attention was steadily drawn to the sleeping figure at his side.

(I still can't believe she's here with me.) After their trip to San Francisco, their relationship had pleasantly progressed. Initially, he had worried that their continuous togetherness would drive each of them mad. He had been wrong, dead wrong. He couldn't get enough of Scully. And though he would never speak for Scully, he trusted her enough to know that she would - and at times did - tell him when she needed her space. Then, for a time, they couldn't get enough of each other and it was pure torture to sit across from her, staring at her, but unable to touch her. (Well, I could touch her, but not how I wanted to.) He smirked. (I've pretty much gotten control of that problem now. Sometimes it comes back though, not that I mind. Sexual tension leads to the most explosive sex.)

They had decided not to tell Skinner, or anyone for that matter. Although Skinner had recently demonstrated his trustworthiness, he still followed the rules strictly and they were definitely bending a few rules. (Okay, we're *breaking* the rules, but that's what they're there for.) He knew that Scully felt uncomfortable keeping this from her mother, but a convenient time hadn't come to tell her yet. (I promise, we'll tell her soon), he thought, gazing intently at her peaceful face.

The secrecy surrounding their relationship was why he was surprised to find her here tonight. They tried to keep weeknight rendezvous to a minimum, unless they were working on a case. Scully had caught some of Mulder's paranoia and felt that any outward signs of their relationship only put their work and lives in jeopardy. "They closed the X-Files once Mulder," he remembered her saying. "We don't need to give them ammunition to do it a second time."

Yet, here she was. And she had been sleeping for at least an hour now. He wasn't sure when she fell asleep, but he had been home for an hour and she had slept the whole time. He was hesitant to wake her because he knew she hadn't been feeling well and probably needed the sleep. Still, she probably hadn't come over to sleep on his couch all night and would probably be angry with him for letting her do just that.

Putting the files away for the night, he knelt beside her, placing a kiss gently on her temple.

"Mmm," she sighed, stirring slightly.

He kissed her again, this time just to the side of her mouth.

"Mulder," she stretched as she purred his name, yawning slightly. "You're home." She opened her eyes and smiled at him.

"Been here for about an hour now."

"You should've woke me."

"I just did," he smiled and kissed her on the lips, finishing the path.

She rose from her prone position and curled up in the corner of the couch. He sat beside her, turning to face her.

"Not that I'm complaining Scully, but I've been wondering. Why'd you come by tonight?"

Her face fell and she suddenly lost the ability to look into his eyes. She pulled her legs out from beneath her and held her hands in her lap. Biting her lip, she stared at her hands.

Scully actually squirmed under his gaze and he wondered what was making her so uncomfortable. "Look Scully. I'm glad you're here and if you just came by on a whim, that's okay. Hell, it's more than okay. You know how much I love surprise visits."

Scully looked at him and silenced his monologue. Uncomfortable, she found herself looking at her hands again. (Be strong Dana. You came here because you need to tell him and you need to tell him tonight.)

Her eyes found his again, searching to borrow strength from him to do what she needed to do. Mulder opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it and waited in silence.

After several long moments, she took a deep breath and began: "Mulder, I came here tonight because there's something I need to tell you and I couldn't wait 'till tomorrow, well, I didn't want to wait any longer."

She took another steadying breath and relaxed a bit. (You've committed yourself now. The hard part is over, just spill the rest out.)

Mulder looked at her apprehensively, but knew better than to ask her any questions. She would speak when she was ready.

Scully spoke again, this time to her hands, unable to face him as she spoke the words. "I went to the doctor's today. I'm pregnant."

She looked at him then, tears tracing crooked paths down her cheeks. Dumbfounded, Mulder stood and began pacing across the living room floor. Scully looked on helplessly, unable to stop him or the steady stream of tears from her eyes.

Several minutes passed and his pacing continued. Finally, he stopped before her and knelt at her feet. Finding her eyes with his, his face an emotionless mask, he spoke softly. "Do you want to keep it?"

Stunned, Scully failed to stammer out an answer. "This is your decision Scully, do you want to keep it?" He worked feverishly to keep his emotions in check. He didn't want his feelings to influence her answer.

"Y-yes. I don't think I could...well, I could never have an abortion."

"That's what I thought," he raised a finger to the cross at her neck, "I wanted to be sure. Do you want to consider adoption?"

Scully, frightened by his line of questioning, answered quietly: "No."

Mulder wrapped his hands around hers, leaned forward and kissed the tears on each of her cheeks. Smiling despite the unshed tears in his eyes. "We're going to have a baby." He kissed her softly on the lips.

Mulder looked at her confused eyes, spoke softly and pulled her hands to his lips. "I wanted to make sure that you had arrived at the same decision as I had. As we did. We decided that we're going to have a baby. Now, we have to decide that, from now on, we are happy about it."

"But Mulder. It's a bad time. It's the wrong time. It's not supposed to happen like this."

"How's it supposed to happen?"

"I don't know. I just, always, sort of imagined that I would be married first, have a house, and then plan to have a baby. I never imagined that it would just happen."

"Scully, it 'just happens' for a lot of people every day."

"But not me, Mulder. And all those people aren't faced with the possibility of losing their jobs because they're having a baby with a partner that they're only supposed to be friends with."

"Look Scully, you don't have to remind me of all the complications this is going to bring into our lives. But we have a commitment that we have to make right here and now to this baby. If we're going to keep it, and we both say we are, then we have to be happy about it. We have to be thrilled, overjoyed, ecstatic." His eyes lit up as he continued to speak. "Do you see, if we're going to bring this baby into the world, then we decide here and now that it is WANTED, that it is LOVED and that it was one of the happiest days of our lives when we found out."

Scully smiled through her tears.

"And tonight, we'll celebrate. What d'ya feel like: Chinese or pizza?"

Scully laughed and pulled Mulder into her arms. "Of all the ways I imagined you'd react to this, I never imagined this. You win. Tonight, we celebrate, but tomorrow we talk."

"How about Thai? I know a great place, but it doesn't deliver. I'll run out to get it while you stay here and finish that nap."

Before Scully could protest, Mulder was already at the door, putting on his shoes. "Back soon," was muttered quickly behind him, as he hurried out the door.

Scully frowned at the door and willed it to open. Mulder had been gone for over an hour and the giddy feeling she had when he left was replaced with her melancholy of before. She couldn't help but think of all the decisions that they faced and the hard choices that had to be made. (Come back Mulder. I can't be happy all by myself.)

She was still amazed by him and his reaction to the news. Although she saw the logic behind his decision - to be happy - she found it hard to believe that he wasn't subject to all the negative thoughts she'd been fighting ever since she suspected.

She'd been suspicious for almost two weeks when she bought the test, but refused to tell him until she knew for sure. Waiting another two weeks for her doctor's appointment was murder, but she couldn't bring herself to tell him without a doctor's confirmation. Even the added symptoms of morning sickness and exhaustion hadn't convinced her to change her mind. Now she regretted not telling him when the suspicions first came to her. Had she, she might not have suffered from such a bleak outlook for the last month.

A key in the door roused her from her thoughts. Mulder entered the apartment, laden with two large bags.

"I'm, uh, not that hungry Mulder."

Mulder laughed. "It's not all food. I brought dinner and a surprise."

He dropped one bag on the table and headed to the kitchen. Scully busied herself unpacking dinner, trying from time to time to see what he was doing in the kitchen. He emerged carrying plates, silverware and two glasses.

Scully eyed the gently fizzing liquid apprehensively.

"We're celebrating Scully. I thought we needed to do it right."

"Mulder, if this is champagne, I can't have any. You should know that."

"It's sparkling cider." He raised his glass, waiting for her to do the same. "A toast, to this new life and the new beginning it's given us."

Mulder was working on his second plate, while Scully still picked at her dinner. Mulder eyed her questioningly.

"I don't have much of an appetite lately," she explained.

Mulder seemed to understand. "How 'pregnant' are you anyway?"

Hesitantly, she replied: "about 6 weeks."

He looked away from her, hiding the hurt look spreading across his features. Focused on his dinner, he spoke quietly next. "Why did...how come you waited to tell me? When did you first suspect that...?"

"I did a home test about 2 weeks ago."

"And before the test? When did you think you needed a test?"

"A couple of days before that." Scully knew she was lying, but she could already tell that Mulder was hurt by her exclusion of him in this.

Mulder continued to stare at his dinner. The tone of Scully's voice told him that she knew he would be hurt by her answers to his questions. (At least she was honest with me now. If only she could've trusted me sooner.)

Scully's hand appeared before his face, pulling the plate from his hands, and she moved closer to encircle him in her arms.

"I thought we were supposed to celebrate today." She had tried to affect a light-hearted tone.

"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" His voice accused her.

"I was wrong Mulder. I should've told you sooner, but I was afraid and uncertain. I honestly didn't think that you would react this way. I thought you would be upset. I didn't want to upset you needlessly. I made a mistake. I'm sorry."

He looked at her then. "You shouldn't have worried about this all alone. We're a team...more than a team. Even if I would have been upset, I had the right to know and worry with you."

"I know Mulder. I promise. I won't keep anything from you again." She paused, smiling. "Now stop being a party-pooper!" She filled their glasses and rose hers in a toast. "To a new beginning with no more secrets."

Mulder, appeased, reciprocated the toast. He kissed her quickly on the cheek before rising.

"Where are you going?"

"It's surprise time."

Mulder returned from the kitchen carrying a poorly wrapped package. "Open it. It's for you."

"Mulder, it's almost your birthday and you're buying me a present. It's not supposed to work like that."

"Just open it. We're celebrating, right? I thought we could use a present or two to help us."

Scully fumbled at the wrapping, blinking away the tears in her eyes. (I hate being so emotional. This is going to be a long pregnancy if I'm going to tear up at every little thing.) Finally clearing away the paper, she smiled in spite of herself. Mulder had bought her two books.

"What to expect when you're expecting."

He laughed. "That one is kind of more for me than you. After all, you are a doctor."

"I'm a pathologist Mulder. Dead people don't usually get pregnant. I'm sure I'm going to need it as much as you. I'm a long way from my last obstetrics tour."

She handed the first book to him, picking up the second at the same time. Her breath caught in her throat. "Oh Mulder..."

The book was entitled 'A Mother's Journal to her Unborn Child'. It was leather-bound and held shut with a tiny clasp reminiscent of her childhood diaries. Fumbling with the clasp, she opened the cover to reveal the ivory pages within.

The first page read: 'Day one: Today is not really day one, but it is the first day that I know, for certain, that you are here with me. Truly, it is ___ weeks into my pregnancy, into the beginning of your life inside me. The first person I told was __________________________. My feelings, now that I know are:'

She lifted her face to meet his eyes. A smile decorated with salty tears greeted him. "It's beautiful."

"It's all for you. I hope, maybe, from time to time, you'll share it with me, but it's all yours. I saw it and had to buy it for you. But promise me one thing: Please try and remember when you're writing in there that we decided today that we are happy. Be honest, but try to stick with that choice."

Overtaken with her emotions, Scully nodded just before throwing her arms around him. Once able to speak, she whispered: "I promise."

Mulder's Apartment
October 11, 1996
6:12 AM

Mulder woke to a retching sound coming from outside the bedroom. Rising quickly, he hurried to the bathroom door, pausing outside. He knew Scully would hate for him to see her like that, but he wanted to help her somehow. Unsure, he waited until the noises stopped and the sound of running water reached his ears. Entering, he found her supporting herself with the countertop. He put his arm around her waist for support and gently smoothed the hair at the back of her head.

"Are you okay?"

Thankful for the physical support he gave her, Scully smiled slightly and leaned more heavily against him. "I'll be fine in a couple of minutes."

"How about a shower?"

"Um, Mulder, I don't think...well, I'm not really in the mood for..."

Mulder interrupted her: "Ms. Scully, you really should get your mind out of the gutter. I only have pure, clean, actually *cleansing*, intentions for this shower."

Smiling, he moved to run the water. Turning to Scully, who still rested against the counter, he pulled off the t-shirt and boxers she had worn to bed. Stripping himself naked, he pulled her into the shower with him.

The warm water invigorated Scully and she found herself waking fully, while enjoying the feel of Mulder all around her. She rested her head against his chest, feeling the water beat against her back, closing her eyes to the rivers flowing from her hair and down her face.

Her next sensation was Mulder's strong hands massaging her temples, rubbing shampoo into her hair. Scully, keeping her eyes closed, could feel him tip her head back slightly, rinsing her hair clean.

As he began pulling a washcloth across her back, Scully lifted her head to speak. "Mmmmulder. Do you realize how good this feels?"

"Consider this an early birthday present." Putting the washcloth aside for a moment, he began massaging the muscles in her back.

"Mulder, something that feels this good for me can't be a present for you."

"Scully, letting me run my hands all over your naked body is the best present I've ever received."

Feeling his erection pressed against her belly, she bit her lip, looking up to meet his eyes. "Mulder, I don't think...I mean I'm still feeling kind of nauseous. I just don't think I can have sex with you, at least not right now."

"I wasn't expecting you to."

Scully looked pointedly down at his groin, making Mulder laugh. "Okay, you got me. I get horny when I'm standing naked in the shower with the love of my life. It doesn't mean I'm expecting anything."

He bent to kiss her lips, but she turned away. "I haven't brushed yet."

"Neither have I."

"But you weren't just worshipping the porcelain god."

He laughed, kissing her forehead. "Point taken. But you owe me one."

The day at the office went by quickly and quietly for a change. Scully worked feverishly at her laptop, trying to get caught up on the perpetual mountain of paperwork. The methodical clicking of her fingers on the keyboard also occupied her mind sufficiently to prevent her from pondering her current condition. Because, despite her promise to Mulder, she was having a hard time being 'happy'.

He, on the other hand, was almost radiant. Sneaking a glance at him, she could see he was still smiling - not grinning, *smiling* - and humming. (And I thought only the mother-to-be was supposed to be radiant.) Of course, she knew she didn't look radiant at all. And she felt terrible. And she was exhausted. And she was nauseous.

She glanced at the crackers sitting next to her keyboard. Her stomach turned over again. (Not going to work this time.) She stood quickly from the seat and ran through the door before Mulder even realized what was going on.

Scully crouched before her new altar, sufficiently shaken after having lost her lunch. (Why do they call it *morning* sickness? It doesn't bother to limit itself to the AM hours and I know I'm not the first pregnant woman to debate this name. They should just call it '3 months of hell all day long' and that way you're pleasantly surprised if you get to sleep through the night or if it ends after only 11 weeks have passed.)

Scully grinned in spite of her current situation and rose wearily to her feet. As she began to run the water, a light tapping came at the door.

"Come in Mulder. It's okay, no one else is in here."

"How did you know it was me?" Mulder walked in, the smile off his face for the first time all day.

"Ladies don't knock before coming into the ladies room," she teased, then resumed splashing her face with the cold water.

"Better?" He asked while handing her some paper towels. "Had it always been this bad, I mean, I hadn't noticed." Suddenly he felt like an insensitive heel. After all, he should've noticed.

She shrugged and nodded at the same time. "Some days are better than others. Some days I can't keep anything down, and on others, I just have trouble in the morning." Mulder's eyes were apologizing wordlessly to her, and for an instant, she couldn't understand why. Then she realized what he was thinking: "It's okay Mulder. I was trying pretty hard to hide it from you."

"So I wouldn't know," he stated quietly.

"So you wouldn't worry. I didn't want you to think anything was wrong. I know it was wrong, but I was only trying to protect you, prevent you from having to worry needlessly. If I didn't want you to know, I would have never told you, right?"

He nodded his affirmation.

"Now, I'm all for a change of scenery every now and then, but I really think we should go back to the office."

Mulder's Apartment
October 13, 1996
6:47 PM

Scully pondered the beautifully wrapped package sitting on her lap and chewed her lip reflexively. She had been racking her brains for weeks trying to think of something to give Mulder for his birthday - when she wasn't worried about whether or not she was pregnant. She had even entertained something of a sexual nature, until her morning sickness had hit full-blown. She couldn't trust her physical well- being enough to give him something like that - it could end up as a torture devise. (Here's something we could be enjoying if I wasn't spending half my time sprawled on the bathroom floor, heaving, and the other half sprawled wherever I can, sleeping.)

She had actually gone to the bookstore to look for something similar to the book he had given her. There was no such book in existence. Apparently, expectant fathers weren't supposed to have feelings about their unborn children. But she had found something else instead, so the trip had served its purpose in the end.

Mulder emerged from his bedroom, beautiful in jeans and a gray t-shirt. One of the many benefits of their relationship was that Scully could now see him in his after work uniform on a much more regular basis. She may have appreciated him in his suits and even felt her heart flutter at the site of him in a tuxedo, but none of these compared to the way he looked now.

She smiled her appreciation. "Happy birthday Mulder."

"You already said that to me - this morning, during lunch and before I left your place to come here and get ready."

"I know, but now it's officially your birthday. I'm giving you this present, and then we're going out to celebrate."

He looked at her, smirking. "An interesting train of logic, Scully." She had been making a big deal of his birthday all weekend. He couldn't understand it - birthdays had never been a big part of his life before - but he knew enough to enjoy it, and remember when her birthday rolled around.

"Are we ready to go?" He asked, pretending not to notice the package on her lap.

"You have to open your present first...unless, you'd rather wait and do it in the restaurant."

"Oh, Scully, is that for me? You shouldn't have..."

Scully thrust the present into his hands. "Stop being so coy, Mulder, and just open it." Her words were harsh, but the smile on her face belayed the humor behind them.

As Mulder felt the weight of the present, and eyeing its shape, he could feel disappointment creep over him. (A book, Scully? Couldn't you have been more creative?) He sat beside her fumbling with the card, preparing himself to cover the disappointment he was sure he'd feel. (She bought me a book after I bought her a book, or 2 books. It's the thought that counts and where is the thought?) He paused in his train of thought to read the card.

'You give me that loving feeling!' He opened the card to read the remainder: 'Of course, you sometimes give me that "I want to kick you in the butt" feeling, but since it's your birthday, let's not dwell on it. Happy Birthday Mulder. For what it's worth, I am happy and I couldn't be without you. Love, Scully.'

A slight smile had appeared on his face after reading the card. It grew even larger after reading what she wrote. He forced himself to focus on the feelings brought on by the card as he ripped into the paper, hoping they would hide the disappointment from her unoriginal gift. It didn't work and his reaction to his gift was plastered across his features. But he wasn't disappointed, he was perplexed.

"The Princess Bride?" He looked to Scully for an explanation, because Scully wouldn't, couldn't just pick a book at random from a store. There had to be some reason.

She laughed a little at the look on Mulder's face. She had really thrown him for a loop. "Not just 'The Princess Bride' - the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Princess Bride."

Mulder still looked lost. "Have you ever read this book, Mulder?" He shook his head no. "Well, that explains it."

She took the book from him, caressing it slightly in her hands. "I read this in high school when I was 16 years old, and it's still one of my favorites to this day. But that's not why I gave it to you. This is proof that sometimes I can believe. This is the 'abridged version of S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and high adventure.' The good-parts version."

She opened the book, paging through it. "This whole book is told as if someone were reading you Morgenstern's work, but only the good parts. I remember reading it, thinking how boring the original would have been, what with the 'fifty-six and a half pages of packing, twenty-three of these pages spent on Princess Noreena packing her clothes and hats.'

Scully read the last from the book and paged again. "Not to mention the sixty-six pages devoted to the history of the Florinese crown. Needless to say, I understood Goldman's need to write a new version, leaving all these boring parts out. But I did believe that an original existed somewhere, at some time."

Mulder was still looking uncertainly at the book. "I hate to tell you this Mulder, because you haven't read it yet and because it devastated me when I found out: there is no Morgenstern and there was not an original 'The Princess Bride'. It's all Goldman's."

"But you believed." He smiled, looking in her eyes, seeing the light in her eyes.

"I believed, having never seen the original copy - no scientific evidence. And, I have to confess that I read the new introduction by Goldman, and in some tiny corner of my heart, I still believe today."

Mulder pulled Scully into an embrace. "I knew there was a believer in there somewhere." He pulled away slightly to look in her eyes. "I love it - I love you. Thank you." He punctuated the statement with a kiss, full on her lips, thanking her not only for the gift, but the hope, the love and the thought behind it.

The restaurant they had chosen was fairly busy, considering it was a Sunday night. Scully had finally convinced Mulder to order a beer to drink. He had refused initially, telling her that he would make the same sacrifices that she had to make. At least that was his intention until she informed him that alcohol was the easy sacrifice, the others included caffeine, and artificial sweeteners. He balked at the thought of a caffeine-free life, and ordered the beer, gaining new respect for his partner. (It's not morning sickness,) he reasoned, (it's withdrawals.)

Scully watched Mulder as he thoroughly enjoyed his steak and eyed the grilled shrimp along side it. She had ordered carefully, albeit blandly, and was playing with the vegetable stir-fry in front of her. She had actually only eaten a roll and a couple bites of the rice.

Mulder caught her looking at his plate, not really eating anything off of hers. "Is there something wrong with your order? You can have some of mine if you like." He held up his fork, a piece of steak on the end.

"No thanks, Mulder. Eat up. I'm afraid I'll just have to live, or eat, vicariously through you."

He dangled a shrimp before her. "Are you sure? Because it certainly is good."

She took the shrimp from him hesitantly, shrugged her shoulders and took a small bite. It was better than good, it was heavenly. She finished the rest. "Mmmmmulder, this is great."

Happy to see her eat, Mulder offered her another. "No, you eat it, enjoy it. It's wasted on me. I'll just be...revisiting it later. I just wanted a taste, that's all."

The light in Mulder's eyes dulled a little, but he turned to his plate before Scully could notice. They still hadn't talked - about the changes that had to be made, the people they needed to tell. Scully didn't want to ruin his 'birthday weekend', so they waited. And he was pretty sure that she wouldn't want to talk about it at work, and then it would be a weeknight and they shouldn't see each other, especially not so soon after the weekend. Mulder realized that by not telling him, Scully was avoiding facing the reality of the situation, and by not talking about it, *the talk*, she was perpetuating that denial.

Mulder was worried. He knew, or at least, he'd heard that the early stages of pregnancy could be hell, but he still wondered if this was normal. Despite his love for the woman across from him, he had to admit that she looked like shit. Her makeup barely masked the dark smudges beneath her eyes, and her skin was pale, paler than usual, and she had lost weight. How much weight, he wasn't sure, but he estimated at least 5, if not 10 pounds.

"Scully, do you think that maybe you should talk to a doctor about this morning sickness? It's seems pretty severe, and I know I don't really know what I'm talking about, and well, I haven't read 'What to Expect when You're Expecting' yet, but," he hesitated a moment, then continued smiling, "I wasn't expecting this."

Scully smiled back. "I know it seems pretty bad, but you know some women suffer from this for their whole pregnancy." At this, Mulder's mouth dropped open and concern clouded his eyes. Scully continued, trying to appease her distraught partner. "I talked to my doctor, Dr. Morgan, and she knows I've been nauseous, and said to call if it gets too bad, but otherwise, she'll see me in about 6 weeks."

Mulder opened his mouth to tell her that he thought it was already too bad, but she cut him off at the pass. "It's not that bad. I can still hold down some meals, I just have to be careful. Trust me, okay, I'll call her if I need to."

Mulder was about to object, but thought better of it. Once Scully set her mind to something, there was no changing it. He decided to let the matter drop, and turned to other concerns. "So, what are you going to tell Skinner?"

Scully turned her attention to her plate. "Mulder, let's not talk about this now. It's your birthday and..."

"Exactly Scully. It's my birthday and I should get to choose what I want to talk about. I think that I would enjoy the rest of my birthday much more if I had a better idea about what's going to happen in my life in the next few months." His words were harsher than he intended and he instantly regretted them and the tears they brought to Scully's eyes.

"I'm sorry Scully, I just..." His words faded off. He took her hand in his, hoping the touch would give her the comfort that his words could not.

She blinked back the tears, still holding his eyes to her own, finding strength there. "I'm not going to tell him, not yet. I know that I have to tell him eventually, but..." She paused, turning her eyes away from his. "It's bad luck."

"It's what?" (I must've heard wrong. Analytical, factual, scientific Scully did not believe in luck, good or bad.)

"It's bad luck, Mulder. Okay, okay, it's not because I believe in luck, but I do see the logic behind it. It's bad luck to tell anyone before you're past 12 weeks. This is the time when if something is going to go wrong, it will. If I were to have a miscarriage, it would happen in the first trimester. After that, the pregnancy is more stable, more likely to proceed to full term. It's bad luck because if you tell everyone before then, and then you miscarry, you have to go and tell everyone that. Miscarriages are fairly common, so your chance of suffering from the bad luck are pretty high."

Mulder listened to Scully in doctor mode and fought to keep his mouth from dropping open. Something could go wrong. And not something like the conspiracy using her against him when they found out, or something like them being fired or reassigned. Those things were problems, inconveniences really. Something could go wrong and that something threatened the very life growing inside of Scully. It probably threatened her life as well. Mulder actually felt his heart tremble in fear. The happiness he declared was long cast away. Something could go wrong and it could take both Scully and their baby away from him. (How far along had Scully said she was? 6 weeks.) He had to wait in fear for 6 more weeks, hoping.

"It's really an old wives' tale, the bad luck part. I mean, the only time anyone ever knew that someone had miscarried was if they told. I'm sure there were other miscarriages, the ones who didn't tell, so no one knew." Scully stopped rambling when she realized that Mulder wasn't really listening anymore. He was holding more tightly to her hand and light perspiration coated his forehead. She looked in his eyes and was met with fear. No, not fear, actually it was terror. Oh God, she had scared him.

She squeezed his hand tightly. "Oh, Mulder, I'm sorry."

"6 more weeks." The words were a mere whisper from his lips.

"Mulder, it's not like that. I mean, I don't have a history of ... well, I don't have any experience, but my mother had 4 children with no problems, no miscarriages. For most people, pregnancy is a normal, natural thing. How many babies are born each day, each hour, each minute? I just want to wait because there is a remote possibility, and no matter how remote, it's still a possibility that we will reveal ourselves to Skinner for no reason. I'm just being cautious, paranoid."

She had driven some of the fear from his eyes. "I guess you're rubbing off on me - first I admit that I can believe, and now I'm being paranoid."

He smiled slightly at this and was about to say more when the waiter arrived to clear their plates. He eyed Scully's full plate and raised an eyebrow in her direction. She declined the offer of leftovers and requested the check.

A few hours later they emerged from the movie theatre. Scully found it rather amusing that for a special occasion, they had chosen an outing that probably seemed mundane for most people. However, their lives were extraordinary enough. It was exciting for them to do something normal for a change.

"I thought it was *my* birthday," Mulder accused. "How come we went to see a movie that backs up what you believe?"

"How was I supposed to know that it was a tumor? I thought I was doing you a favor. I thought 'Phenomenon' was about aliens." She smiled deviously at him. "But I guess this does prove that I am right."

"Oh no, Scully. I won't give up that easily. I think the aliens actually caused the tumor to form, so *they* killed him, not the tumor." He laughed at the look on her face.

"Mulder, you are impossible." With that they climbed into the car and drove home.

The End.

Title: Changes - A Favor for Scully IV
Author: Scarlet Scully
Rating: PG
Category: SRA, MSR
Keywords: Mulder/Scully Romance, MulderAngst
Spoilers: none
Disclaimer: The characters of the X-Files, and the premise of the show belong to Chris Carter, despite how much he abuses them throughout season 6. Thanks to him and all the folks at 1013 for creating such a great place to escape to. I promise I won't mind if you steal some of my ideas, as long as you don't mind if I steal some of yours. Deal? Deal.

Summary: Mulder and Scully deal with the pregnancy and the changes it makes to their lives.

Author's Notes: This is the fourth chapter in the Favor for Scully series. It kinda qualifies as a stand alone, but things will make a lot more sense if you read the first 3 parts.

November 19, 1996
Georgetown, VA
7:52 AM

Mulder quickly took the stairs to Scully's apartment building. He fully expected her to be waiting at the door, tapping her foot and looking at her watch. He hated being late, but he hadn't fully adjusted to his new routine.

Scully's morning sickness hadn't abated in the weeks since she initially told him that they were expecting. He believed it had actually gotten worse, despite her declarations to the contrary. She still refused to call her doctor about it, saying it wasn't that serious and it could wait. The only victory he had managed to garner was his right to drive her in to work each morning.

Of course now, he was going to have to wage that battle all over again. Their only chance at arriving to work on time was if, by the act of some government conspirator, the rest of the drivers on the morning commute were given the day off. He really liked it better when she just spent the night, or he did.

Of course Monday nights were definitely not sleep over nights. Especially when they weren't working on a case. Mulder had made sure he kept their caseload light, if not non-existent. He wasn't taking any chances, especially during these first three months. His jail sentence was almost over - he was fairly certain that Scully was almost past 12 weeks of pregnancy. Then he would be able to breathe again. Maybe then he would be able to keep to his initial vow of happiness.

Surprised to find her door still locked, Mulder let himself in, yelling as he did so. "Hey Scully. C'mon, we're going to be late."

After a moment's pause he called out again, his voice more hesitant and concerned. "Scully?"

The only light in the apartment came from the bathroom and he made his way towards it. He stopped in his tracks when he found her, sprawled on the bathroom floor, her face resting against the cool tile, her knees curled up against her stomach.

He knelt beside her, shaking her shoulder gently, calling her name once, twice, three times. His voice rising with each attempt to rouse her. After the third try, she stirred, wearily attempting to raise her head.

"Mulder? Oh, I must've fallen asleep. I just put my head down for a second."

"Scully you're sleeping on the *bathroom floor*."

Scully was about to reply, when she felt a wave of nausea overtake her. "Oh no, not again."

Mulder, confused, watched as she vainly attempted to push her body off the floor. Her attempts were so feeble that before he recognized what she was trying to do, her body heaved, accompanied by the now familiar retching sound.

Thankful that she hadn't thrown up on the floor, he pulled her up bodily and supported her over the toilet as her body was wracked by painful spasms. She moaned between retches, and his own stomach clenched in sympathy. As the heaving subsided, he realized that she hadn't actually thrown up, but instead was suffering from dry heaves.

Breathless and weak, she fell into his arms. Fighting for control with each word, she spoke: "Call. Dr. Morgan."

"Not a chance, Scully. We're going to the hospital - we can call her on the way."

He picked her up, surprised at how light she was, and carried her out of the tiny room. He paused only a moment to check the number of the doctor on Scully's phone and to grab the blanket off the back of her couch.

"Mulder. Down. Now." Scully vainly attempted to fight the arms supporting her. "Sick."

Before he could respond, he felt her body spasm, and the dry heaves began again. He struggled to hold her, fighting against both her heaving body and her own attempts to find the ground.

"Shhh. It's okay, Scully. Stop fighting. I'm not putting you down, and I don't care if you do manage to dredge something up to throw up on me. Work with me, Scully. I won't get you to the car otherwise."

Her arms returned to their positions around his neck, and she buried her head into his chest. Once the spasms subsided, he managed to open the door and carry his charge out to the awaiting car. Securing her to the seat and covering her with a blanket, he hurried to the other side, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket as he went.

At some point during the drive to the hospital, Scully lost consciousness. A part of Mulder was thankful for her unconsciousness as it finally gave her body control over the nausea that had previously overtaken it. Mulder guided the car skillfully through the traffic, his free hand grasping tightly to Scully's. He forced his mind to focus on the task of getting to the hospital as quickly as possible, too terrified to allow his mind to think of anything else, especially the health of the woman beside him.

Finally, after what seemed like hours but in reality amounted to about 20 minutes, he pulled into the emergency entrance of George Washington University Medical Centre. He pulled her still form from the car, carrying her through the automatic doors. Almost immediately, he was surrounded by men and women dressed in hospital garb. Scully was taken from him and these same men and women were shouting questions at him. All fell on deaf ears as Mulder chased after Scully, following her to the entrance to the waiting emergency room. Hands pulled on his arms, pulling him away from the doors as they closed, shutting her away from him.

"Sir, sir! Is that your wife sir? Sir, sir? We need to know what happened. Sir? Can you hear me sir?"

Finally, Mulder seemed to recognize that the woman's questions were directed at him. Slowly he pulled his eyes away from the doors to look at her face. When he answered, his words were barely a whisper, as if he were talking to himself, and the nurse strained to hear.

"She's 3 months pregnant, almost. Dr. Morgan said probably dehydrated." He shook his head, seeming more aware of the situation. "I found her passed out on the bathroom floor. When she woke up, she started throwing up. Well actually, she was having dry heaves. She lost consciousness in the car on the way here."

"Okay, sir. We're going to take care of your wife. I need you to fill out some paper work. Dr. Morgan is your doctor?" He nodded yes. "Okay, I'm going to call her in, and she'll talk to you as soon as she can."

Mulder found himself staring at a waiting room full of chairs, a clipboard in his hand. He sat down and filled out all the medical forms, to the best of his knowledge. He wasn't sure of some items, but he was fairly certain those things could wait. Wait as he was being forced to wait.

(Oh Scully, we almost made it. We were so close.)

Mulder felt the tears spill from his eyes and sat awaiting the outcome of the fight for his life, for it was his life in there, as much as it would have been were it him lying on the table in that cold room.

Dr. Morgan emerged from the trauma room and scanned the waiting room for a man fitting Agent Mulder's description. In a corner of the room, she spied a tall man wearing a dark suit and a trench coat, his head held in his hands.

"Agent Mulder?"

When he raised his head to look at her, she was taken aback by the devastation evident on his face. Eyes swimming with tears yet to be shed met hers, their red rims evidence of predecessors.

"Is Scully...is she...is she okay?" The doctor's affirmative nod allowed him to release the breath he had been holding. Whatever else happened, he knew he could deal with it as long as Scully was with him.

"She lost the baby, didn't she?"

Immediately, the young doctor's face grew sympathetic. "Oh, Agent Mulder. No. The baby's going to be fine and so will she, soon."

After hearing Dr. Morgan's words, Mulder's body visibly relaxed. Tears fell carelessly from his eyes, his heart unable to endure the effects of the emotional roller coaster any longer.

Dr. Morgan sat beside him, placing a comforting arm around his shoulder. "I'm so sorry. I didn't realize how worried you were, that you thought that she might miscarry. I should have sent someone out to update you, to ease your mind."

Mulder pulled himself together, feeling more than a little foolish. "Can I see her?"

She smiled at him. "Well, that's why I'm here. She sent me out to find you."

Scully had been moved to a bed in an observation room. Her skin was still quite pale and an IV was threaded into her arm. But, other than these two items, there wasn't any evidence of the earlier trauma.

She smiled as he walked through the door and he could feel himself smile in return. In the next instant, he found himself at her side, his arms encircling her, bringing her close to his heart.

"Mulder. It's all right. I'm okay."

Dr. Morgan cleared her throat. "No thanks to you, Dana."

Mulder released Scully and looked at the young woman with respect in his eyes. She smiled at him and continued scolding Scully.

"I believe that, at your last appointment, I told you to call me if the morning sickness worsened."

"I didn't think it was really that unusual. I mean, many women suffer from worse cases their entire pregnancies." Scully stammered her defense.

"Yes, that's true. But in those cases, their doctor's know about it and are actively treating it. That's why you should have called me."

Scully bowed her head, penitent. Mulder was happy to see someone else breaking through her stubbornness for a change. He knew he had an ally in Dr. Morgan.

"Look Dana. I know you are a doctor, but you are not capable of treating yourself. I don't mean to be harsh, but you put yourself at risk today. You and your baby. You need to be more careful. Okay?"

Scully nodded in agreement. "When can I go home?"

Dr. Morgan shook her head ruefully. "Okay, I'll make you a deal. I've given you medication that should help control the nausea. You may need to take this for at least another month. Anyway, if you eat a meal - a full meal - and keep it down, you can go home later this afternoon. But no work for the rest of the week, at least."

Scully smiled in victory. "Deal."

"Now, Agent Mulder," Dr. Morgan continued.

"Just call me Mulder, like Scully does."

"Okay...Mulder. And you can call me Susan, just like Dana does." She smiled at him and shook her head. "I can't say I understand this last name business between you two. Anyway, Mulder, I'm just about finished Scully's exam. She sent me out to get you for this next part, sure that you'd want to be a part of this. Would you like to hear your baby's heartbeat?" She smiled at the smile overtaking his face. "I'll take that as a 'yes'."

Mulder sat in the chair next to Scully's bed, holding her hand in his. In the mean time, Dr. Morgan a.k.a. Susan prepared the doppler equipment. Shortly, the small room was filled with the whompa- whompa-whompa-whompa of the baby's heart beating, the sound muffled by the fluid it traveled through.

Scully felt a pang of jealousy as she took in the awe on Mulder's face. The complete and utter amazement on his features, along with the biggest smile she had ever seen, quickly chased the feeling away.

"It's so fast," he whispered.

"That's normal, Mulder," Scully comforted. "It's good."

"It's beautiful." Mulder brought his full lips down to her temple.

After several minutes, Susan turned off the equipment and the room was once again filled with silence. "Dana, I'm going to go make arrangements with the ER staff. I think it will be easier to keep you down here. I probably couldn't find a room by the time you were ready to leave anyway." With that, she left the room.

"Mulder, could you call my mom for me?"

"Uh sure, Scully. What do you want me to tell her?"

"Well, could you just ask her to come spend the day with me, if she's not busy?"

Mulder's face fell. "You...don't want me to stay here."

Scully smiled reassuringly at him. "I do, but you have to get to work. You're already terribly late."

"I'll just call Skinner and tell him you're sick and..."

"And what? You're going to sit here and keep me company. We both know he's not going to go for that. Besides, I want you to set up a meeting for me with him at the end of the day. You can bring me there when you come and pick me up."

"A meeting? What about?"

"I need to tell him that I'm pregnant. This is as good a time as any, seeing as I'll be off for the rest of the week."

Mulder seemed hesitant. "What about me?"

"You're not pregnant Mulder." Scully smiled at him.

Mulder smirked back. "I, quite obviously, didn't mean that. I meant me, or *us*. Is this when we tell him about us?"

"I don't think we have to. I guess if he has the audacity to ask me who the father is, I'll tell him. I'm not going to lie. I don't think he'll ask though. I don't think he'll have the nerve."

"Um Scully. I think it's his job to ask."

"No, Mulder, it's not. I've been looking more in depth at the regulations lately. The fact is, there isn't any specific rule against partners becoming involved. As long as they keep it outside of work - which we pretty much adhere to - and it isn't adversely affecting their solve rate. A partnership is generally dissolved if there is a poor solve rate so that doesn't really apply. They frown on it, no doubt about it. But it is a free country and they have no business influencing our personal lives."

"And the consortium? The real powers-that-be. What rules do they have to follow? One of the reasons we have been careful is because they could use this against us."

"Mulder, half the ER staff thinks we're married. If they wanted to know about our relationship, they could easily find out, whether Skinner knows or not."

Mulder held his hands up in surrender. "Okay, okay G-woman. You win. What do you want me to tell your mother?"

"Make sure she's not worried. Tell her I'm okay, but I've got to spend the day for observation. Then tell her that I'll tell her the rest when she gets here."

Mulder stood and saluted. "Anything else, sir."

"That'll be all."

He turned, doing his best impersonation of a military officer and left the room, Scully's laughter ringing in his ears.

Maggie Scully entered the room, concern etched into her features, despite Mulder's earlier reassurances. Mulder still sat at Scully's side, holding her hand, refusing to leave until Maggie arrived.

"Oh Dana. What happened?"

"Mom, I'm okay. I'd have called myself, but there isn't a phone in here. I'm okay, really. I had a close call, but I'm fine now."

Maggie regarded her daughter, uncertainty evident on her face. She looked over to Mulder, but couldn't find any traces of worry. She looked back to her daughter and a smile greeted her eyes. A smile that tried to disguise her pale skin and lank hair.

"Mom, I've got good news." Scully paused, taking in a deep breath. Mulder squeezed her hand in support. "I'm going to have a baby."

Maggie sat down, clearly shocked. She took in her daughter's features again and then smiled. "Oh Dana. I'm so happy for you."

She stood and embraced her daughter. Mulder released Scully's hand, allowing her to return the embrace. After several moments, they parted. Maggie paused a moment, then walked to the other side of the bed.

She threw her arms around Mulder at this time. "Congratulations Fox." Mulder sat, dumbfounded, till he caught Scully's smile. Then he returned the embrace.

Several minutes later, Mulder said his good-byes. Scully had promised to call him as soon as she knew for certain when she would be released.

Mulder sat on the edge of the hospital bed previously occupied by Scully. He waited while she signed her release forms and went over any final instructions with Susan. He was feeling especially proud of himself, at the moment, because he had remembered to pick her up a change of clothes *and* shoes before returning to the hospital. He was quite certain she would have been thoroughly pissed had she been forced to go up to Skinner's office in her pajamas and barefoot to boot.

Scully returned, clad in a sweatshirt and jeans. "Mulder, you could have brought me something a little more professional to wear."

"Why, Scully? You're just going in to tell him that you won't be in. I still think you should've called from home. Besides, you should be showering me with kisses of gratitude for bringing you anything at all. After all, *you* forgot to ask me to bring a change of clothes. *I* was the thoughtful one who brought them anyway."

"Okay Mulder, you win." She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him lightly under his chin. "Let's get this over with. I'm already feeling tired and I can't wait to sleep in my own bed."

About forty minutes later, Mulder found himself seated in his usual seat at Skinner's desk, Scully at his side. They waited patiently while he finished a phone call. Well, not really patiently. Mulder continually focused on keeping a neutral expression on his face, not wanting to give away anything unless asked. Scully fiddled with the edge of the sleeve of her gray sweatshirt, noticing that it had begun to fray.

"Agents, you wanted to speak to me." Skinner stern voice broke through each of their thoughts.

"Actually, sir. I requested to speak with you. Agent Mulder is here only because what I have to say pertains to him as well, as he is my partner, and because he was kind enough to bring me straight here from the hospital, so I wouldn't have to go home and get my own vehicle."

Skinner turned from Scully to Mulder and, receiving no information there, turned back to Scully again. His questioning look urged her to continue.

"Well, sir, as I'm sure you're well aware, I was admitted to the hospital today. I have a note here excusing this absence and to tell you that I will not be able to return to work until next week."

Scully took a deep breath, and to stall for time, handed Skinner the note.

"Agent Scully, I don't usually request a doctor's note for illness, especially from agents whose attendance record is as exceptional as is yours. I trust there is a more important, valid reason for this meeting."

"Yes sir. Uh," she paused again, less certain of herself as she had been earlier. "I'm pregnant sir."

Skinner sat back in his chair, visibly shocked. Looking at Scully, he took in her relief at the revelation. Her eyes stared at the hands in her lap and he drew his gaze over to his other agent. Mulder looked composed, too composed. He wasn't certain if this information had taken him by surprise or not.

Finally, he turned back to Scully, a question on his lips. His mouth actually opened to voice the question, until he met her eyes. They, quite clearly, dared him to ask the question foremost on his mind. His lips pursed to form the opening sound of the word 'who'.

Mulder panicked for an instant. Despite Scully's reassurances, he was certain this would result in the dissolution of their partnership. He was quite willing to sacrifice their partnership for her love, but he wasn't ready to give that up yet. Especially not now. If she were reassigned, Mulder could never trust another agent to protect her from harm. (Who am I kidding, I don't even trust myself to protect her.)

Skinner failed to notice the panic on Mulder's face, but faltered in the face of Scully's dare. He knew FBI regulations better than anyone and he also knew quite a bit about the right to privacy. He was treading a dangerous line here. In the end, he knew his only decision was to allow her to tell him what she felt he needed to know.

Pausing an instant longer, he rose and extended his hand in her direction. "I suppose congratulations are in order, Agent Scully."

Shock registered on her features, quickly replaced with a smile. She rose and excepted the proffered hand. "Thank you sir."

"I trust everything is okay. I mean, I hope this week of leave is only a precautionary measure."

"Yes sir. Exactly that, sir."

Releasing her hand, he looked over at Mulder and directed a grudging smile his way. "Well, agents. If there isn't anything else?" Both shook their heads 'no'. "Have a good evening. Mulder, I'll see you tomorrow, with that report, and Scully, I'll see you Monday."

Mulder rose and nodded at the AD. He placed his strong hand at the small of Scully's back, guiding her out of the room.

Driving back to Scully's apartment, both sat in a comfortable, relieved silence. Scully actually felt herself drifting off when Mulder's voice interrupted the silence. "I think he knows."

Confused, Scully mumbled in a sleepy voice: "who knows what?" Her eyes remained closed.

Mulder stole a quick glance in her direction and smiled slightly. "Skinner. He smiled at me, right after he shook your hand."

"You're being paranoid, Mulder. It doesn't mean anything."

"When is the last time Skinner smiled at me? Better yet, just name any time he smiled at me." She answered his question with silence, she couldn't answer otherwise. "I don't think he's angry. I almost felt as if it were his way of congratulating me too."

"Well then, what are you worried about, Mulder?"

"I think, if he knows, or suspects, then we should tell him."

Scully let out an exasperated sigh. "You didn't sound like you wanted to tell him earlier."

"I know, but now, if he knows and we don't tell him - trust him with this information, he might feel like we don't trust him."

"We don't Mulder. Isn't that the whole point?"

"I don't know. It just feels wrong somehow."

Mulder shut down Scully's laptop, having just completed the report Skinner had earlier referred to. Scully had slept most of the night, only staying awake long enough to eat some soup and a sandwich. Susan had suggested that they keep the meals light at first. She had also ordered Scully on full bedrest for the remainder of the week, helping her to not only recover fully, but also gain some of the weight she had lost.

He had arranged for Mrs. Scully to spend the day with her and he would spend the night. Scully had fought him initially, reminding him of their earlier arrangement regarding weeknight sleepovers. He quickly won that argument, reminding her that she wouldn't have spent so much time on the bathroom floor had he been here to help her when she needed him.

He wandered through the apartment, turning off lights and checking the locks on the door. It was a rather domestic task and he smiled inwardly at how easily he had taken to it. At his own apartment, he rarely ever turned lights on, but if they were on, they stayed on, along with the TV, stereo and on several occasions, the stove top.

At the last thought, he made his way back to the kitchen, checking the dials to ensure they were already off. Satisfied, he finished his chore and entered the bedroom.

Warmth spread through his heart as he admired the tiny figure curled under the covers, red hair in stark contrast to the white pillowcase it was spread across. He tried, unsuccessfully, to imagine her body swollen to the proportions promised by the last stages of pregnancy.

He shook his head and stripped down to his boxers. Pulling the covers back enough to allow him access without chilling the original occupant, he crawled into the warmth of Scully's bed.

He spooned himself to her body, managing to tuck an arm under her head without waking her. This arm he wrapped around her shoulders, pulling her closer into his body. He nuzzled his nose into the back of her neck, inhaling her Scullyscent. His free arm wrapped around her waist, further securing her body to his.

He lay in the dark, listening to her breathe, imagining the sound of her heart beating, in sync with his own. His hand strayed to her belly and he stroked it gently, recalling the sound of his baby's heart beating, the rapid, water-soaked sound.

(I can't believe I never yearned for this before. I can't imagine living my whole life never feeling this way.) His thoughts paused a second and he felt the lump form in his throat. (I almost lost this. Scully we almost lost this.) His arms tightened, securing everything important to him in his grasp.

The events of the day assaulted him and Mulder couldn't hold the tears at bay. Silently, he wept for what was almost lost, the sounds he almost never heard and the joy he felt now. His tears fell against Scully's neck, dampening the hair at her nape. But despite this and the occasional shudder of Mulder's body as he struggled for control over his emotions, her sleep remained undisturbed.

November 22, 1996
Scully's Apartment
6:20 PM

Scully hummed quietly to herself, relaxing on the couch and flipping through the pages of a magazine. She couldn't keep herself away from the baby section of the catalogue, and she smiled as she perused the paraphernalia she would have to acquire in the near future. She glanced around the apartment, trying to find a place for each of the items.

Her thoughts of 'redecorating' were interrupted by the sound of a key in the door. The door opened to allow Mulder, his suit-clad form half hidden behind a brown paper bag. The contents of the bag looked suspiciously like groceries.

"Hey Scully." He leaned over the back of the couch to brush his lips across her temple in a quick kiss.

"Hey yourself. What's in the bag?"

"I took the liberty of picking up a couple of things for dinner."

Scully stuck her lip out, pouting. "You mean you're not going to take me out for dinner? The romance fades so quickly." She shook her head in mock disgust.

Mulder laughed. "Well, if you really want, I can take you to McDonald's. I thought you might prefer a little Italian, by candlelight."

"I didn't know you were Italian, Mulder." She smirked in his direction.

"I'm not!" With puppy-dog-eyes, he added, "and I didn't think you thought I was 'little' either."

She laughed and followed him into the kitchen, throwing her arms around his neck, once his hands were free. "You know I don't think that, Mulder," she purred seductively. "But I do think that, before you start dinner, you might need a shower."

"Are you trying to imply that I smell foul, Scully?"

"No, not at all. Actually, I think you smell delicious and wouldn't mind getting a taste." She ground her hips against him for emphasis.

Mulder moaned in response. "Uh...Scully? I don't, well, do you think it's safe, I mean, can we?"

She stood on her tiptoes and pushed her lips against his gently. "It's safe. I even asked Susan at my appointment this morning."

Mulder's face reddened. "You asked Susan if we could make love?"

"Of course I did. Who would you expect me to ask?"

"I don't know. It's just that a couple of weeks ago we couldn't even admit we were having sex and now you're asking people for advice."

"A couple of weeks ago we weren't having sex, Mulder. I felt terrible and was exhausted all the time. In fact, the memory of the last time we made love is terribly faint in my mind. Care to refresh that memory?"

This last Scully said with her lips just a whisper away from Mulder's. She closed the distance, her tongue tracing the edge of his lips, begging for entrance. Finally, his lips parted, his hands coming up to cup her face, deepening the kiss. After several minutes they separated, flushed.

Scully began loosening his tie, backing toward the bedroom. "C'mon G-man. You're gonna want to change anyway. Let's get rid of this suit."

Mulder could only groan in response, following Scully into the bedroom as she pulled of his tie and began unbuttoning his shirt. He began tugging on her sweatshirt, his actions hindering hers, hers hindering his. Finally, they parted, each realizing the quickest way to get what they wanted was to do it themselves.

An instant later, Scully stood before Mulder naked. He had just removed the last of his socks, his black boxers remained in place. "I win," she purred, while stepping closer to him, one hand sliding beneath the band, tugging down gently.

She knelt before him after removing his boxers, pushing him gently so he sat on the edge of the bed. One hand caressed his stomach, the other guiding his throbbing penis into her mouth.

She could hear him moan her name, his hands caressing her hair. They traveled to her shoulders, then across her back until she felt him pull her up from under her arms. "Scully," he gasped.

She released him from her mouth and looked up at him, a smirk greeting his eyes. "You don't like that Mulder?"

He pulled her all the way onto the bed beside him. "You know I do, but there's something I want to do for you."

She replied, "oh really," an innocent look on her face, lying back at the same time.

"Really," his husky voice responded.

He planted kisses all along her body, paying her breasts extra attention. Traveling still lower, he paused and kissed her stomach, just below her navel. Scully smiled, knowing he was kissing their baby. Caressing her stomach once more, he finished his descent.

Scully groaned loudly as his tongue flicked against her clit. She began to pant as he alternated between dancing his tongue between her lips and sucking on her engorged clit. She quickly found herself on the edge and held his head forcefully between her legs. She moaned his name, begging for release, held at the mercy of his beautiful lips.

Finally she climaxed, her legs quaking, her body convulsing from the aftereffects. As Mulder rose to meet her mouth, she snaked a leg around his waist, raising her hips to meet him. He didn't enter her though.

She met his eyes and read fear in them. "Mulder, it's okay."

"I can't Scully. God, I want to, but I'm too heavy. What if I hurt you?"

She pushed him over on to his back. "You're not too heavy Mulder, but if you prefer..." She slid herself down onto him, hearing his sigh as he penetrated her. She began slowly sliding up and down.

"Are you sure it's okay?" he gasped.

She brought her lips to his, looking deep into his eyes. "It's okay. Trust me."

She kissed him feverishly, her tongue twisting around his. They found themselves quickly increasing the pace and as much as Scully had wanted to take this slow for Mulder, she found her body responding and demanding her to continue.

Eyes closed she continued to ride him, hands splayed across his chest, her head tilted up to the ceiling. Her fingers dug into his chest as she began to come, his moans mingling with hers. The orgasm washed through her body, her muscles clenching his shaft tightly. As her senses returned to her, she felt his hands tighten on her waist, continuing to thrust her on to him, until finally she felt him come, calling her name as he did so.

Their movements gradually ceased, and she kissed his lips softly, moving to kiss his chest and soothe the marks she had left there. His arms draped around her back and squeezed her gently.

"Mmm, thanks Scully. I really needed that."

"Believe me, the pleasure was all mine."

Scully lay her head on his chest, drifting between the world of sleep and awareness. Mulder traced lazy circles on her back, caressing her arm with his free hand. After nearly a half an hour passed, he spoke.

"I should probably start your dinner, shouldn't I?"

She smiled into his chest. "I'm not on bed rest anymore, Mulder. I can help."

Neither seemed inclined to rise and they continued to lie in each other's arms. Several minutes later, Mulder broke the silence again.

"Scully, I've been thinking," his voice was almost hesitant.

"A dangerous idea, at best," she replied lazily.

Mulder chuckled before continuing. "No, seriously. I think we need to discuss our living arrangements." When Scully didn't respond, he continued. "I think that maybe I should start staying here on a more permanent basis."

Scully rose, disentangling herself from Mulder's embrace. "Where are you going, Scully?"

She stood from the bed, pulling on a pair of scrubs and a t-shirt. "I'm hungry. I'm gonna start dinner."

"Geez, Scully. I'm trying to talk to you here." Before he could say anything further, she left the room and headed for the kitchen. Finding the plaid pajama pants he kept at Scully's, he pulled them on and chased after her.

He found her pulling the items out of the bag and organizing them on the counter. He stood behind her and covered her hand with his as she placed a jar of sauce on the counter. Turning her toward him, he tilted her chin up, his eyes seeking hers. Her tear streaked face greeted him.

"You're crying Scully." His reached a finger up to touch a tear as it began its path down her cheek.

"I know I'm crying Mulder." She pulled away from him angrily. "I'm a big ball of raging hormones and I cry at the drop of a hat. Get used to it because we have six more months of this." She stalked away from him into the living room.

"Scully, I didn't mean to upset you. I didn't think that it would bother you that much. I mean, it only makes sense. We've got some major expenses coming up and the best way to save for them is to stop paying rent on two places. Besides, I want to be there for this baby and how can I be there if I'm across town every time he wakes up at 2 AM hungry."

Mulder stood before her and placed his hands on her upper arms. Scully stood before him, unmoving. Her arms were crossed protectively over her middle, and her eyes stared at the floor. Her hair hung like a veil shielding her face. The shaking of her shoulders was the only evidence of her continued tears.

Mulder, still unsure of what he had done wrong, pulled her into his embrace and she cried into his chest. Although she allowed the embrace, she kept her arms crossed between them, a barrier.

After several minutes, she pulled away, hiccupping softly. "So you want to move in here," she stated quietly. "Because it makes sense. So we can save money for the baby. So you can help with feedings in the middle of the night." Mulder just looked at her helplessly. "Sure. Fine. Whatever."

She turned and walked over to the couch. Sitting down, she wrapped her arms around her legs, pulling them to her chest, resting her cheek on her knees. Silent tears fell carelessly from her eyes.

Mulder sat beside her as she turned her face in the opposite direction. He placed a gentle hand on the back of her head, caressing her hair slowly. When he finally spoke, his voice rasped around the words.

"You didn't want this, Scully? I'm sorry I asked. I thought you might want to share more of your life with me. I thought that maybe I could be a part of your life, of your baby's life."

He continued to stare at the back of her head and a single tear escaped from his eye. After a short while, she turned to face him, his hand trailing across her cheek as he withdrew his touch.

"Mulder, it's not that I don't want you in my life. I do. But this..." she waved her hands before her, raising her head from her knees. "This is a big step, in any relationship. I don't want us making it for the wrong reasons. If we are going to live together, it should be because it's something we want."

"I want it Scully. Don't you?"

"No, not like this. Not because I'm going to have a baby and you want to help me take care of it. Tell me something Mulder: if I wasn't pregnant, would we be taking this step right now?"

"No, but..."

"Then we shouldn't be doing it all."

"Scully, please listen to me. You're absolutely right. If you weren't pregnant, then no, I wouldn't be asking you to move in. But that's because we would still be keeping our relationship a secret. We still wouldn't be allowed to have weeknight sleepovers. We probably still wouldn't have told your mother. This wouldn't even be a remote possibility, whether we wanted it or not. This pregnancy has forced our hand, but in a good way. It has forced our relationship out in the open so we can act on our feelings without fear of being discovered."

He reached his hand out and took hers in his. "Scully, I love you and I wouldn't ask this if I didn't want to be with you."

"But that's not what you said Mulder. You said that you wanted to move in so we could save money for the *baby*, so you could be here for the *baby*. You didn't say anything about *me*, that you wanted to be with *me*, that you loved *me*."

Mulder pulled her onto his lap, his arms wrapped around her in a tight embrace. "Oh Scully. Of course I love you. This is about you and me and the baby and *us*. I want *us* to be together, because I love you and the baby you've given me. I don't want to be away from you and I want to take care of you and I want to take care of you while you take care of our baby and I want to help you take care of our baby and maybe, just maybe I want you to take care of me too."

"But you said..." Scully interrupted, her voice reminiscent of a little girl's.

"I know what I said, but I was trying to win you over with logic. I was arguing your side of the equation, and quite obviously, I'm not any good at it. I love you Scully, you have to trust that."

She nodded in response. "I love you too Mulder." She kissed him quickly on the lips, smiling as they parted. "Now, I seem to recall you saying something about cooking me dinner."

The End.

Title: The Room Where I Died - A Favor for Scully V
Author: Scarlet Scully
Rating: PG - back to the stuff that's okay for kiddies too.
Category: XRA, MSR,
Keywords: Mulder/Scully Romance, ScullyAngst, Babyfic
Spoilers: The Field Where I Died (I'm lost in season 4 here, so I'm pretty sure it's safe for everyone)
Archive? Yes - drop me a line if you get a chance. I'd like to check out your site. Feedback? You're joking right? Please, I live for it.
Disclaimer: The plot and ideas here belong to Chris Carter and the folks at 1013. I must agree with many other authors out there and contend that Mulder and Scully belong to DD and GA respectively. The show wouldn't exist without their excellent portrayals. The song "Have a Little Faith in Me" belongs to Jewel and is part of the Phenomenon soundtrack.

Summary: Scully deals with the events of the episode and how it impacts her relationship with Mulder. The fifth story in the Favor for Scully series.

Authors Notes: Okay, here we go again. I'm enjoying myself in this little universe I've created too much to let go now. I think this story is unique to fanfic in that I'm taking my 'Alternate Universe' story line and allowing it to crisscross with the timeline in Season 4. "The Field Where I Died" actually aired on November 3, but I'm playing around with that date purely for entertainment purposes. I feel rather justified in doing so as CC frequently airs episodes out of order, and episodes often feature dates that are not coincident with their air date. At any rate, my research has not turned up any specific date in reference to this ep, other than the air date. By the way, this by no means indicates that any of the previous or later episodes in Season 4 have occurred in my universe - this is just an intersection point between mine and CC's. Hope you enjoy this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Now, on with the show.

December 4, 1996
1:54 PM
Mulder/Scully Residence
Georgetown, VA

Scully stormed through the front door, dragging her suitcase behind her. Scully imagined that steam was rising off her in waves as the fury built within her. It was only further aggravated by the obstacle course that was currently occupying her living room. Boxes sat unpacked over most of the available floor space.

Mulder watched as Scully marched ahead of him, headed straight for the stairs leading to the second floor. "Scully. Scully, wait." He reached an arm out to halt her progress.

"What do you want, Mulder?"

Mulder paused. He didn't know what he wanted. He wanted Scully to stop being angry with him, but he couldn't tell her that and he didn't know what to do about it without asking her. "Let me help you with that."

She took a deep breath and continued to glare at him for several moments. "I don't need your help. You just take care of your own things. You're pretty good at that."

Scully turned on her heel to leave, when Mulder spoke again. "Is this about Melissa? If it is, I'm..."

"You're what Mulder? You're sorry. Is that what you're going to say. What would you have said if you'd been hurt, or worse? I don't think 'sorry' is going to cut it here Mulder. I don't know what is."

She continued her journey upstairs, the suitcase bumping painfully against her leg and each stair. She dropped it at the entrance to the bedroom (*their* bedroom), she corrected mentally. She immediately kicked off her shoes and began undressing. Once clad in tights and a sweatshirt, she felt a little better.

(I'm going to need some new clothes soon,) she thought distractedly. As if their most recent case hadn't been bad enough, every single pair of pants she owned were almost painfully tight on her now- expanding waist. She laid back on the bed and rubbed her stomach idly. (That certainly isn't very good for you.)

Her eyes roamed about the room. They had only moved into the townhouse the past weekend, and spent more nights in a motel room than here. She looked at the mixture of their things, his life mixing with hers. She was lying on *their* bed. In reality it was hers, but they had shared it too many times in the recent past for her to lay claim to it any longer.

She felt the anger bubbling inside her again. This was not going to work. She needed a peaceful place to think. A place that was hers, or at least not his.

She stood and retrieved a quilt her mother had given her, wrapping it around herself to ward off the chill that seemed to have settled into her bones. While doing so, she noticed the picture tossed carelessly on the dresser. It was a picture of the two of them together. Her friend Lisa had sent the photo, snapped by a photographer roaming around the wedding reception that night seemingly many lifetimes in the past.

She picked it up and admired it for a second. They had actually stopped what they were doing and looked at the camera. Mulder was standing behind her, his arms wrapped around her waist, hers wrapped over his. They were both smiling and she was leaning into his embrace and his head was lowered and forward so that their faces were almost side by side. They looked so happy and so *right*, like they belonged together.

"Sergeant. Great. Wonderful." She wasn't exactly yelling, but she wasn't being quiet either. She threw the picture back on the dresser and stormed out of the room, halting once she was in the hallway. She didn't know where to go. She couldn't go to work, that was more his domain than hers. She didn't want to go to her mother's. She wanted to go back to her old apartment - that was all hers.

About to sit down in the hallway where she stood, she spied the door at the other end of the hallway. She opened the door to the small room, walked in and closed it behind her. This was the baby's room, or it would be once they had gotten around to buying all the things they needed for it. As it was right now, it was completely bare - a bare hardwood floor with bare, white walls and bare windows.

(Well, it's not mine, but it's not Mulder's either.) She slumped to the floor leaning her back against the wall. She could hear him downstairs, making Mulder noises, opening the fridge door, moving things around, maybe even unpacking a couple of boxes. Well, she couldn't get rid of him completely, but at least he had the good sense to not come up to the second floor.

(Not that good sense and Mulder usually go hand in hand.) Scully sighed loudly. She was angry with Mulder for some of the things he had done. But, once the anger faded, she was hurt. He had broken her heart and she never imagined, never suspected that he would.

Mulder was so single-minded when it came to his pursuit of the truth. She supposed she should've expected it, she should've realized that he would have dropped everything to find out if there was any truth behind Melissa's claims. She still couldn't believe that 'everything' included her.

She remembered trying to look into Mulder's eyes after Melissa claimed that she was his soulmate. He wouldn't look at her. He was completely entranced with Melissa - his soulmate for every life he had lived before this one, and every life after. She had said that they were only destined to meet in passing this time, but Mulder seemed to want more.

A single tear escaped from her eyes, unshed tears clouded her vision and she closed her eyes against them. She didn't know if she believed any of this. She had believed, before that field, before that room, that she and Mulder were soulmates - meant for each other, each complementing the other completely.

Now, she didn't know what she believed. She still loved Mulder, with all her heart. She loved him enough to show him those pictures - the proof that validated his theory. But could she still believe that they were soulmates when he didn't. He believed his soulmate had already passed on and was waiting for him in the next life.

Footsteps on the stairs interrupted her thoughts, and Scully quickly wiped her face with the edge of her sleeve. After several minutes, the door opened.

"Scully? What are you doing in here?" Mulder looked confused as he crouched down before her.

"I was trying to be alone." She refused to meet his eyes.

"Scully, please. We need to talk. This isn't going to get better if we don't."

"I'm not ready to talk to you Mulder. I don't want to talk to you Mulder. Therefore, *we* are not going to talk. Now, please, leave me alone."

"Okay, for a while. But then we'll talk." His voice was soft in stark contrast to the harshness of hers. He reached a hand out to grasp hers, but stopped just short of contact with her. It stayed there a minute, hovering just above her clasped- together hands. He withdrew it, never touching her and left the room quietly.

Scully shifted on the floor. Despite the quiet offered by the nursery, it lacked any measure of physical comfort. Finally, she lay on her back, staring at the ceiling, her mother's quilt pillowing her head. The room was slowly growing dark as the light from outside faded. Her hand strayed once again to her belly, caressing it slowly. Her thoughts turned back to the room, that night when she had died.

She was his father, his sergeant, an important person in his life. But Melissa, Melissa was his soulmate. He had declared it that night. She could still hear his voice, breaking as he began to cry. "But love... love... souls mate eternal... my... husband is taken away from me. To the camps. He is Melissa. We're always taken away."

Tears formed in her eyes as she recalled their later conversation. Mulder had asked her: "Dana, if, um... early in the four years we've been working together... an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that... we'd been friends together in other lifetimes... always... wouldn't it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?"

She hadn't known how to respond to that, especially considering they weren't currently in a 'friendship' type of relationship. Did he regret that they had become lovers - that they were now about to be parents - linked together for the remainder of this life? Maybe he felt as if he had sold out on his soulmate and lost his chance with her.

(Not that he hadn't tried to remedy that situation.) Scully grimaced inwardly. She still wondered what would have happened, where they would be right now, had Melissa survived. She honestly didn't know.

She could hear him banging around beneath her again. They shouldn't have moved into this place so soon. She remembered arguing that neither of their apartments would be suitable for them to move into and they had begun their search for a larger place. This townhouse was perfect. It had two bedrooms, a room that could serve as an office and a deck that led to a small backyard, in addition to all the usual perks. The rent was reasonable - more than either of them paid alone, but substantially less than their combined rents. They hadn't been prepared to move so quickly, but the landlord had insisted, threatening to rent to other tenants should they choose to wait.

She sighed as she heard the front door close. Mulder had left her again. Never mind that she had asked him to, well actually, ordered him. She already felt deserted by him.

(How have I come to this point? Where did I go wrong? I was not supposed to end up a single mother - alone because the father - her lover - didn't love her anymore. Instead he loves a woman he doesn't know, a woman who is already dead.)

New tears fell from her eyes. She thought of her friends from college and what they would think of her situation now. It was their opinions that caused her to go to Mulder in the first place. Less than a week ago, she was thankful for the results of that ruse. Now she wasn't so sure.

Exhausted from her emotional turmoil and from the trials of the case, she allowed her eyes to close, welcoming the darkness in hopes of a dreamless slumber.

Mulder sat next to Scully's sleeping form. She lay on her back, head tilted slightly to the side where he sat. The marks from her earlier tears had faded to the point where they were almost invisible. He wasn't certain how long she had been sleeping, but he'd only been gone a little over an hour. He wanted to pick her up and carry her to bed, so she could sleep more comfortably. He knew, however, that this would wake her and he was quite certain it would anger her all over again.

Sliding a gentle hand over her flaming tresses, he leant down to kiss her temple. She stirred slightly and then slowly opened her eyes. His voice when he greeted her was low and it reminded her of the many beautiful words he had spoken to her with the same voice.


"Hey yourself." She replied, struggling upright. Her muscles showing their disapproval of her resting spot. Mulder helped her rise until she sat completely upright. Moving behind her, he began to slowly massage the muscles across her shoulders and neck.

"Why don't you let me bring you to bed?"

The concern in his voice softened her heart further. "I'm okay Mulder. I just needed a little nap, that's all."

"You know, there's a perfectly good bed down the hall. I think it's a little early for the baby to be sleeping in the nursery."

She smiled at the remark, but remained silent.

Several minutes passed when Mulder moved to sit in front of her. They sat facing each other, both sitting Indian style, Mulder holding her clasped hands in both of his. The silence was interrupted as they both spoke the other's name.

His mouth twisted in a slight smile. "I need to speak first Scully. I'm sorry. I was a complete ass. I got totally absorbed in this - in that - whole thing that I completely ignored... well, I just didn't think. I'm sorry for that."

"Mulder, I know you're sorry, but I don't know if it's enough."

"Wait, Scully. Let me finish. I was so fascinated with the possibility that I had met Melissa in another life, and recognized her in this life, that I didn't think through my actions. I was so caught up in the saga of the two soulmates who were eternally ripped apart that I wanted to save them. I believed that I could end the cycle."

"Do you still believe that now?" Scully's voice was barely a whisper in the silent room.

"Do I believe what - in the saga - in the cycle - that I can stop it? Do I believe that she is my soulmate?"

Scully looked at him expectantly, her heart balanced on his answer.

"No. I don't think she is my soulmate. If she were, why did she play such an insignificant part in my life, in this life? I believe I may have known and loved her in a previous life. You proved as much to me with those pictures."

"No, I don't believe she is my soulmate, Scully. I believe you are. I believe that we have been cultivating this relationship over lifetimes. You have always been an important part of my lives, and you have grown closer with each lifetime. First you were my sergeant, than my father and now, well now you are my everything. We can't get any closer than this Scully. I believe that now our souls will be mated eternally.

"They say that loves based on friendships are the strongest. Ours is a love based on friendships that have spanned lifetimes, so it will last lifetimes. At least that is what I believe. I'm sorry that I got lead astray. I'm sorry I hurt you and I want to make it better, but I don't know how."

Scully gazed into the endless depths of his eyes and felt her heart screaming: 'HE LOVES ME!" She couldn't let go of the anger though, and the fear she felt as she watched him walk willingly to what she thought would amount to his death.

"Mulder, what you did yesterday was more than foolish and impulsive. It was irresponsible. You could've died and you could've easily prevented that risk. You have more than yourself to think about now. You need to realize that there are consequences to your actions and those consequences not only affect you, but me and this baby."

"Scully, don't you think I realize that? Don't you think I've been kicking myself over what I did? I know that I would be furious if you put yourself needlessly at risk. I know I was stupid and I haven't forgiven myself for doing it. I don't know what I would do if I lost you Scully. I don't even want to think about it, but I'm forcing myself to - so I will remember the next time a dumb idea drops itself into my head. I can't guarantee anything, but I can promise you that I will *try* to not be so impulsive. But you have to promise to kick me in the ass if I start to be too obsessed. Okay?"

She nodded her head in agreement and unclasped her hands so she could hold his. They held hands for only a moment, when he broke the contact to pull her into his lap. He wrapped his arms around her tightly. She nuzzled her head against his neck, pressing a kiss against his collarbone.

They sat together until their muscles grew stiff. Mulder stirred, causing Scully to look up at him. His voice was husky when he spoke and he seemed hesitant, almost nervous.

"Scully, come downstairs with me. I uh... want you to come downstairs and dance with me."

A single eyebrow arched high on her forehead. "Dance with you, Agent Mulder?"

"Yeah. I think we should christen our new place." He laughed a little.

"I thought we already did that, our first night here."

"I mean *christen* it with a dance. You have a dirty mind, woman."

Scully looked at him questioningly. "We never danced in any of our other places, why now?"

Mulder let out an exasperated sigh. "Because I'm trying to be romantic. Because there's a song I want you to hear. Why do you have to analyze everything?"

She smiled at his frustration. "Okay, Mulder. Take me to your dance floor."

Once downstairs, Scully realized that Mulder had indeed cleared enough space in the living room for them to dance. While he loaded the CD into the stereo, she picked up the case and scanned the titles, trying to guess which song he was about to play. Before she had figured it out, he took the case from her hand and pulled her into his arms. The first strains of a guitar began to play from the speakers.

A woman's voice, soft and haunting began to fill the room:

When the road gets dark
And you can no longer see
Just let my love throw a spark baby
Have a little faith in me

When the tears you cry
Oh you can't believe
Just give these loving arms a try baby
Have a little faith in me

Scully rested her head against his chest, one arm wrapped tightly around his waist. Her other hand was held in his, both close to his heart. His arm was wrapped around her upper back and they swayed gently to the beat of the music.

Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me

When your secret heart
Cannot speak so easily
Come here darling, from a whisper start
Have a little faith in me

When your back's against the wall
Just turn around you will see
I will catch you, I will catch your fall 7Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me

The woman's voice continued, stronger now and more desperate. Emotions screaming louder than her words ever could.

I've been in love with you
For such a long, long time baby
I expect nothing in return
But just for you to have a little faith in me
They say time, time is friend
When you have me, there is no one
All you gotta do is have a little faith in me
I said I'm holding on, I'm holding on
Strength little darling, have a little faith in me
Hey baby, oh baby oh,
All you gotta do is have a little faith in me
Oh, all you gotta do is have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me.

The song ended in a flurry of strings and then silence filled the room once again. Scully looked up at Mulder and found he was looking down at her.

"It's beautiful. Who sings it? I mean, the voice sounds familiar, but I can't place it."

He smiled at her. "Jewel." When recognition failed to register on her face, he continued. "She was singing at London's... that bar in San Francisco."

"Hey Scully, I don't want to sound corny, but... do you think that you can put your faith in me? Forever?"

She smiled at him. "Of course Mulder. I have, for a long time now."

Mulder's smile faltered and his eyes searched the floor at their feet. He almost lost his nerve until he felt Scully's arm tighten about his waist. He pulled away and looked into her eyes.

"Um... that's not exactly what I meant Scully. I mean, will you put your faith in me and marry me?"

Shock registered across her face and then it broke into a huge smile, reaching all the way to her eyes.

"Is that a 'yes'?"

"Of course it's a 'yes'." She threw her arms around him.

"Oh shit," he mumbled. "I did it wrong."

"What do you mean 'you did it wrong' Mulder? You didn't do anything wrong. It was perfect."

"No, no. I forgot something. Stay right here." With that, he dashed up the stairs, leaving Scully standing in the middle of the living room in wonder. She heard him moving around in the bedroom, slamming drawers. Finally after several minutes, he returned, a small velvet box in his hand.

She felt tears spring to her eyes. He handed her the box and before she could open it, he covered it with his hand.

"It's not typical of what you'd expect to find in there."

Scully contemplated his warning and steeled herself against what she might find inside. Images of plastic rings with alien heads flashed in her mind. When she finally opened the box, the ring it held caused her breath to catch in her throat.

"It's beautiful" was all she could whisper. It was. A deep blue stone sat framed by ribbons of gold twisting around it in an antique-looking, ornate design. The stone caught the light, causing white lines to dance across its surface in a six-sided star pattern.

"You like it?" She responded with the nod of her head. "It's a star-sapphire. I hoped you would like it."

He took the ring from the box and grasped her left hand, sliding the ring to its proper place on her hand. She was surprised that it fit so perfectly. He had obviously thought about this in advance, although she wasn't sure how he managed to get the right size. She didn't care. He loved her and was going to marry her and she was the happiest woman on the planet.

She held her hand at arms' length and admired it. Mulder watched her, sure that he had made the right choice. He wondered if she saw the ring as he did, a mixture of the two of them: her eyes the color of sapphires, his always looking to the stars. He didn't care. She loved him and was going to marry him and he was the happiest man on the planet, actually in the universe.


The wedding was small necessarily. They hadn't had much time to prepare and they didn't have many people they wanted to invite. Scully's family: her mother, brothers and their wives, had attended, obviously. They had invited Skinner, and to his credit, he took the news in stride. Mulder had invited the Lone Gunmen and his mother, the latter left immediately after the ceremony, choosing to not stay for the dinner afterwards. Scully had invited Lisa, Amy and Julie, partly out of obligation and partly out of thanks. It had been Lisa's wedding that had pushed them together, after all. Only Lisa and Amy had come, Julie apologizing, citing family obligations.

It was to be expected, after all, they had chosen to get married on Christmas Eve. Well, actually Mulder had chosen the date. His research had been more extensive than just the perfect ring and size. He had also found a large cottage on a lake just outside of the Washington area. The main area had been set up with tables for dinner and it was from these tables that the guests sat to watch the ceremony.

Mulder and Scully walked down the aisle together. Her brother Bill had offered to give Dana away, but she refused. She and Mulder had traveled this far together, got to this point together and would continue from here together. They stood before the priest and pledged their love forever. Behind the priest, framed in glass doors, waves crashed onto the beach. The fireplace inside kept the cold at bay.

Mulder had worn a black tuxedo and Scully had dressed in a modest, but becoming, ivory slip dress. Her bare shoulders were covered with a sheer wrap of the same hue and tiny white flowers danced in the curls of her hair. They looked beautiful together. After dinner, they danced to the song Mulder had chosen (this time, not intentionally for the wedding) and spent the remainder of the evening socializing and mixing with family and friends.

At midnight, a final toast was made, welcoming Christmas. Mulder and Scully welcoming the first of many as husband and wife. Afterwards, everyone retired to their respective cabins (there were several surrounding the main cottage) while Mulder and Scully spent the night together in the cottage they were married in: their first of many nights as husband and wife.

The End.

A Final Note: No, this is not the end of the series. It seems kind of final, this last part, but that's just the way it worked. And I know, everyone wants the baby - it's coming. What can I say - except pregnancies do last *9* months. A lot can happen in that time, but the baby should be coming in the next couple of installments - definitely not the next one though. Sorry. Anyway, hope you liked it. And for those of you who offered input as to how Mulder would propose - Thanks. I kind of melted them together to make this unique (I hope) story, but if you look really close, all the suggestions - or most of them - are there. Send any and all feedback to scarlet.scully@home.com.


Title: Opening the Door - A Favor for Scully VI
Author: Scarlet Scully
Rating: PG
Category: SRA
Keywords: MSR, MSA, Babyfic
Spoilers: I'm lost in season 4 and I'm not referring to anything specific, so I think we're all safe
Archive? Yes - drop me a line if you get a chance and let me know where.
Disclaimer: The characters here belong to the actors who portray them. The situations belong to CC and the folks at 1013. Thanks for creating a world that's so much fun to play in.

Summary: Nothing is ever easy for our dynamic duo. The sixth installment in the Favor for Scully series.

Author's Notes: I know I'm usually pretty verbose here, but I just don't have much to say this time. This story is taking on a life of its own (and mine) and I'd appreciate any comments you might have. Thanks to everyone who has responded to the previous chapters. Your feedback has kept me going, more than you know.

Enough chatter now, on with the show.

January 15, 1997
Georgetown, VA
Mulder/Scully Residence
8:57 AM
20 weeks

Mulder lay quietly watching the sleeping form next to him. His hand gently caressed the ever- increasing mound of her stomach. He was fascinated in Scully's changing shape, more so now that he could feel the life moving inside it. His hand stopped for a moment, acknowledging the gentle push he felt beneath his fingers.

He knew he should wake her, but he just loved this time of day. The actual time varied from day to day, but the act was the same. He would awaken next to her, cuddle up close and watch her while she slept. She was so relaxed and peaceful. He loved her lips, slightly opened, almost begging for a kiss. And he always reveled in discovering the new pattern her hair would make against the white sheets - sometimes masking her face, sometimes tickling his nose - but always different.

It was only recently that he had discovered the feeling of his baby's movements inside her. She had laughed at the expression on his face the first time he felt it. He didn't know what she was doing. Early one morning, as they lay together in bed, talking idly, not yet ready to get up and face the day, she suddenly grabbed his hand and pushed it against her belly. The movement had scared him at first, then realization had dawned on him and he felt the dopey grin spread across his features. Afterwards, he couldn't get enough. It was as if the movement he felt had furthered the reality that this was indeed happening to him, and it was good. There was a life growing inside his Scully and it wanted to be discovered, demanding attention by moving and pushing against it's present home.

The other surprise had been how quickly Scully's stomach had grown. He had a hard time believing that she was barely showing the day they married. That day, it seemed as if his hand covered her whole stomach, almost dwarfed it. This morning, it seemed as if he could spend all morning sliding his hand across her, a single hand not sufficient to complete the task.

He rolled over and brushed a kiss against her cheek. She stirred slightly and he brought his lips close to her ear.

"C'mon sleepyhead, it's time to wake up."

Georgetown Medical Centre
11:15 AM

Mulder sat next to Scully, holding her hand while Dr. Morgan prepared the equipment for the ultrasound. Scully lay on the examining table, her belly exposed to the cold air in the room. So far, the exam had gone well and Scully didn't even seem bothered by the confirmation that her weight was skyrocketing.

"Okay, this is going to be a little cold," Susan warned as she applied a liberal amount of jelly to Scully's abdomen. Scully remained silent but jumped as the substance hit her skin.

Mulder watched, fascinated as the instrument began to smear the clear gel across her skin. The screen flickered to life and Scully squeezed his hand in anticipation. The black and white image filled the screen and Mulder struggled to discern the lines and make sense of them.

"Well, well. It looks like we have quite a surprise here." Susan angled the instrument for a better view. "Congratulations, Mulders. You're going to have twins. That explains why you've gotten so big, so fast, Dana."

Mulder's brain struggled to catch up with what he was hearing. Finally, his eyes made out the rounded shape of two heads. A hand waved by the screen, five fingers spread out wide.

"Twins?" His voice sounded hoarse in his ears.

"Twins," Scully confirmed, turning from the screen to look at him, eyes shining. "Looks like we have more shopping to do than we originally thought."

He smiled down at her and kissed her forehead. They both turned back to the screen. It was currently focused on a tiny heart that was beating incredibly fast. Susan continued to roll the wand over Scully's stomach, angling occasionally as she performed her exam.

"Is it... I mean, are they okay?" Scully found her voice first, speaking the question on both their minds.

"Everything looks good so far. All fingers, toes and limbs accounted for." Susan smiled over at them as they breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief. "Do you want to know the sex?"

"Um..." Scully looked at Mulder, eyes questioning, leaving it up to him.

He smiled at her, averting his eyes only momentarily from the screen. "No. I think we'll leave that as a surprise for another time. We've had enough surprises today. Don't want to use them all up at once."

Susan glanced at Scully who nodded her head in confirmation before continuing with the exam. After several minutes, she broke the silence in the room with a questioning "hmm".

Scully felt herself jump at the sound. The simple, soft sound causing a wall to close around her heart. "Is something wrong?" Her voice was a hoarse whisper in the silence.

Susan continued the exam in silence for several minutes before answering. At the same time, she turned off the monitor and wiped Scully's stomach dry. "Why don't you get dressed Dana and meet me in my office when you're done?"

She turned to leave and Mulder, frozen up to this point, rose and blocked her exit. "You didn't answer her, Susan. Is there something wrong?"

It seemed, for an instant, that she was going to ignore him, or avoid the question again. Finally, exhaling a defeated sigh, she spoke: "There is a complication, but with some precautions, there shouldn't be any problems." As Mulder opened his mouth to speak she held up a stifling hand. "We'll talk about everything in my office."

Ten minutes later they found themselves in a strangely familiar situation, familiar yet foreign at the same time. Scully seated at Mulder's left side, both facing the desk, both fearing what was about to be spoken. Only now, Skinner wasn't here and the words weren't about something trivial like procedures, protocol or even the fate of their partnership. Scully forced herself to continue to breath, in and out, in and out, as Susan began her monologue. Mulder felt lost and helpless.

"You developed a condition called Placenta Previa. It's actually fairly common, especially with twins. Your placenta is too low in the uterus. It's blocking the opening to the vagina. It *can* correct itself. If it doesn't, we may have to perform a Cesarean Section, but we'll worry about that when we're closer to your due date. For now, our biggest concern is keeping you and your babies healthy. There is a risk that the placenta could be torn away from the uterine wall and that could result in miscarriage. This means we're going have to give you some physical restrictions: No repetitive bending, no lifting, no standing for prolonged periods, no intercourse, in short: nothing strenuous. I'm not sure what this means for you at work Dana, but I'm pretty sure you will need some time off. Maybe you can discuss alternative options with your superiors."

Her monologue ended and she took in the expressions on each of their faces. She waited while they digested the information.

Scully's mind was reeling, words racing through it again and again. (Placenta Previa, *your* placenta, *your* uterus, *your* babies, miscarriage, yourplacentayouruterusyourbabiesyouryouryourfault.) She suppressed a sob while gathering her thoughts. Mulder remained silent at her side.

Susan continued while the silent couple battled with this latest information. "The twins are healthy though. They are a good size for this stage of the pregnancy. Keep doing what you've been doing and they will be just fine. You should expect back aches in the near future, if not already. There's a lot of weight in front and your back will have to compensate. Mulder, you should hone your massage skills."

Neither responded to the intended mood-lifter. She continued: "Also, especially with smaller women, the blood flow to the heart can be restricted by the uterus. You should avoid lying on your back and if you do, keep a pillow or cushion under your right side to tilt the uterus slightly." She paused again, waiting for either of them to speak.

After several minutes, Scully gathered enough strength to speak. "So I just have to be careful?" Her eyes searched the other woman's, trying to find hope hidden somewhere in their dark pools. Any emotion present was hidden beneath her professional mask, years of training keeping it in place despite the close relationship shared between the two women. Finally, the eyes softened a bit.

"Yes. Be careful and you shouldn't have any problems. You'll take care of her Mulder, right?" Mulder only nodded silently, still assimilating the information thrown his way. "Good. Now Dana, I'll want to see you in 4 weeks for another ultrasound. My secretary will arrange an appointment for you. Until then, be careful and don't forget to eat. You're eating for *3* now instead of 2."

With those final words of caution, they were dismissed. Both rose and proceeded out the room, Mulder with his hand placed firmly at the small of Scully's back.

Mulder had driven to a nearby mall, following their original plans to go shopping after the doctor's appointment. Scully wasn't exactly in the mood to wander through stores full of baby supplies, but she couldn't find her voice to suggest otherwise. They ended up in the food court before Mulder spoke for the first time.

"What do you want for lunch?"

"I'm not really hungry, Mulder." Scully answered truthfully.

He shrugged and headed for one of the various food outlets while Scully sat at a nearby table. He returned shortly and placed a sandwich and salad in front of her. He had two large slices of pizza for himself.

"Mulder... I said I'm not hungry."

"I know Scully," he sighed. His eyes refused to meet hers. "Are you forgetting what the doctor said?"

"No, of course not. She said a lot of things and I haven't forgotten any of them, like that..."

Mulder cut her off before she could continue. "That you should eat."

He looked at her pointedly, hiding his fear behind anger. He couldn't acknowledge what was building inside him for fear it would rip him apart. His hands moved to grip the edge of the table, knuckles white with the effort. His eyes closed to the terror building inside.

Several minutes later he felt a gentle caress across the back of his hand. The movement was repeated, but his eyes remained shut. Her strong fingers gently pried his from the tabletop. Her hands twisted to hold his firmly.

"Not here Scully. Not now. Not yet. I'm not ready." His voice was a whisper that she could barely hear above the din of the mall.

"Mulder, listen to me. This is a precaution. We are going to be careful and whether this problem fixes itself or not, our babies are going to be okay. Don't you remember what Susan said? This is a common condition when twins are involved. That means that survival rates are pretty high all the way around."

He looked at her questioningly, finally having opened his eyes. "What are they?"

Scully faltered for a minute until she realized what he was asking. "I don't know the actual rates and before you ask, the reason I know that survival rates are high is because I've never heard of this condition. If it was frequently fatal and common in occurrence, I would remember it from med school. Right?"

She waited while her logic filtered through his emotion. She hadn't really convinced herself of what she was convincing him, at least not yet, but she would have time for that later. In the mean time, she needed to take care of him. She needed him to be strong and confident in their happiness so that, if needed, he could remind her of the very things she was reminding him of now.

"They're okay? The twins. She said they're okay, right?"

Mulder's question broke through her thoughts and she smiled in reassurance. "Yes, she said that they were healthy."

Later that afternoon, Scully retreated to their bedroom. She remembered the look of concern that had dropped across Mulder's face when she told him that she was going to lie down for a bit. After finally convincing him that she was fine, just a little tired, she found herself tucked under the covers, propped up against a couple of pillows. The still from the ultrasound in her hand, she pulled the leather bound book from the night table drawer.

She had been selfish with this book that Mulder had given her, at least so far. Each day she intended to share it with him, allow him to contribute to this ongoing letter to her unborn child -- children, she mentally corrected. The day had yet to arrive. It wasn't as though he would disagree with anything she had written, or be hurt by it, or be angered by it, but it was personal. She had kept with her original goal and the pages were filled with the brutal honesty of her emotions. And these emotions were happy while remaining honest. She told her child -- children -- her every fear and every obstacle she faced to bring them into this world. She told them of the chances she took with her life, her career and knew that this would affirm her and Mulder's assertion that they were wanted.

She paged quickly through the book, some pages written on at length, others holding quick notes on her thoughts and feelings, exhaustion keeping her from making a more complete report. Finally, having found the page she was seeking, she uncapped her pen and began to write, glancing occasionally from the page to the picture of her unborn children.

"Today, I found out more about you. I have written to you for many weeks now, debating about whether you were a boy or a girl, but definitely a 'you'. I still don't know if you are a boy or a girl - your father and I decided that we would wait to find that out on your birthday - but I have found out that you could be a boy and a girl. Today I found out that I am doubly blessed and there are two of you. And don't worry, although two is definitely a lot, it is not too much to love. We are happy, as happy as we can be. I am worried though, I'm already imagining the 'terrible two's', doubled. That is a fun problem to deal with and although when that time rolls around I will swear it was the most difficult of my life, I'm sure I will look back on it and laugh.

"We are not as happy as we should be though. Unfortunately, in order to not upset the cosmic balance of life (not that I believe in that sort of thing), good news is almost always accompanied by bad. There is a complication and I am going to have to be very careful or there will be problems. I will not detail these problems, or potential problems, but I will give a name to the complication. This way, when you are older, both of you, and curious, you can know a little more about the struggle that resulted in your life. I have never wanted you here, safe and sound, more than I do now. I am excited about the evolution of this pregnancy, but if I could exchange the experience for your guaranteed safe arrival, I would in a second.

"This complication is Placenta Previa and we found it today at your ultrasound. I'm keeping the picture of you at this page in this book as a reminder of the happiness that came hand in hand with that bad news. This is what you looked like exactly halfway through the pregnancy, 20 weeks before your birthday."

Scully closed the book quickly, before her tears had a chance to leave water marks on its pages. She had been strong for Mulder, reassuring, but in truth, she was terrified. Tears spilled from her eyes almost continually and she finally gave in to the desperation inside. She held the book tightly against her chest as her weeping turned into sobbing, her sobs nearing a wail.

Mulder stood outside the bedroom door. He had ventured up to join Scully in her nap only to be greeted by the sound of her tears, muffled slightly by the door between them. He leaned his forehead against the door, his heart tearing at the sound of her pain.

(Scully, why did you keep it in? Why did you make me feel better when you feel so bad?) Mulder felt the tears brim over, his pain matching his wife's pain.

He knew why she did it. They were like that, both of them. Each so concerned with protecting the other that they kept their own pain inside. He hadn't let Scully know how worried he'd been in the early months, when he knew there was a chance that she could lose the baby -- babies. And now she was shutting him out.

He stood outside that door for several minutes, his arms aching to hold her. He knew he couldn't comfort her, reassure her as she had done for him, but he wanted to let her know that she wasn't alone, that he was here to share her pain, that he did share her pain. She was his wife, he was her husband, partners in so many ways, *every* way and he felt that they should be facing this problem together. He just couldn't understand why she wouldn't let him in.

Realization suddenly dawned on him. It wasn't her fault. She wasn't closing him out, keeping him at bay. She wasn't seeking his comfort, but she wasn't hiding from it. He realized then that it was as much in his power to change this trend in their relationship as it was in hers. All he had to do was open the door and go to her, hold her in his aching arms and whisper soothing words in her ear.

But what if she turned away from him? What if she didn't want comfort from him? Could he stand that kind of rejection from her? (We're married and I'm still worried that she will turn away from me. When does it end? When do I get to feel secure in her love for me?) "Maybe never," Mulder answered his own question out loud.

His hand on the doorknob, he took a deep breath then entered the room. Her back was to him, her body curled into a protective ball, partially covered by the bedcovers. "Scully?"

She didn't answer him and her tears continued unabated. He pulled the covers back and crawled into the bed behind her, spooning his body to hers. He wrapped his arms fiercely across her chest, covering her arms as she embraced herself. He felt a sharp corner in his forearm and he glanced down to see the leather-bound book he had given her. He held her more tightly and the tears streamed freely down his face. Her sobs continued, shaking her body in his arms.

Mulder moved his lips to the side of her face and kissed her temple. "Let it out, Scully. I know you're scared. I'm scared too."

His tears fell on her face, mingling with hers as they traced paths down her cheeks, finally falling to the pillow beneath her head. "Oh Scully, I love you and I'm scared to death. I'm lost here; there isn't anything I can do. I'm helpless and I hate it. I want to give you hope, tell you I believe that everything is going to be okay, work out for the best. But I'm afraid that it's not true and I have everything in the world to lose. I want to make it better, but I can't."

Scully's tears had faded and she twisted in his arms. Mulder loosened his grip enough to allow her to turn and face him, before tightening his arms again. Her reddened face turned up to him, silent tears still falling from her watery eyes.

"Mulder I'm so afraid. I didn't know that I wanted this until it happened and now... I need this. I need to see these babies born, healthy. I need to raise them and love them and watch them grow. I don't know if I could go on if something happened to them. I..."

"Shhh." Mulder cut her off, kissing her forehead. His lips remained barely touching her as he continued. "I know Scully. I know. I know how you feel Scully. You're not alone. I'm here with you, even in this dark place, Scully. I know."

His words faded to a whisper, repeating "I know" over and over again. Scully buried her face in his chest, pressing her body against his, their children sheltered between their bodies. (If only this were enough,) she thought to herself. (If only we could offer our bodies and that would be enough to protect them, to ensure their safety. If only there were some promise, some bargain we could make to guarantee that our children will be well-born.)

After some time, Mulder's whispers faded to silence and Scully fell asleep. Her ear was pressed against his chest, the beating of his heart lulling her to peaceful slumber. The edges of the book dug into her arms, still clutched against her heart. His arms continued their tight embrace, even in sleep, and they kept her slumber peaceful, providing safety and security from the demons of her waking life. Their children remained pressed between them, surrounded by all the love and shelter their parents could offer.

The End.

Author: Scarlet Scully
Rating: PG
Category: SRA
Keywords: MSR, MSA, babyfic
Spoilers: slight references to Irresistible and Our Town
Archive: Yes - please let me know if you get the chance
Disclaimer: I'm not really taking them, I'm just borrowing them for a bit (without permission) and I promise I'll give them back when I'm done. The X- Files, yadda-yadda-yadda belong to CC
Co. Please don't get angry, I'm not making any money off this, unless feedback pays the rent these days .

Summary: M
S deal further with the complications and consequences associated with Scully's pregnancy. They also face one of a parent's greatest challenges: Finding a Name! The seventh story in the Favor for Scully series.

Author's notes: Well, this is turning into quite a long series here. Believe me, when I started this, I never imagined I'd be writing a part 7 (!) and I'm still not finished. I'd also like to officially thank everyone who participated in my little "Name- the-Twins" game. I really enjoyed reading everyone's suggestions. I hope you enjoy this latest foray into the X-Files universe.

And now, on with the show:

January 16, 1997
FBI Headquarters
1:00 PM
20 weeks

Mulder and Scully were seated across from Skinner's desk. He wasn't yet in his office, but his secretary had directed them to wait inside until he returned. Scully was sitting in her chair for the second time that day. In a meeting, early that morning, she had filed a formal request for medical leave based on her doctor's advice. Skinner had indicated that there shouldn't be a problem granting her request, but he had to put the request to higher authorities before it could be formally approved. Based on their earlier conversation, Scully anticipated that this meeting was to simply formally approve her leave.

AD Skinner entered the room and took his position across from them without greeting. Although the AD rarely revealed much through facial expressions, his grim expression gave Scully reason to reconsider her earlier thoughts.

"Agent Scully," he began without preface, "I'm afraid that your request for medical leave has been denied. It is our position that, because the need for this leave is directly related to your pregnancy, a medical leave is not warranted and that, instead, you will begin your maternity leave if you so desire."

Scully was stunned into momentary silence. Mulder shifted, the anger in him radiating to her as he prepared to speak in her defense. She spoke before he had the chance.

"Permission to speak freely, sir?" Skinner nodded. "Are you crazy? I mean, have you completely lost your mind? Mulder's most outlandish theories are more grounded than this."

Skinner's expression transformed from stern to stunned and Mulder had to stifle the grin that threatened to break out despite his anger. Skinner had rarely seen an angry Scully, and, especially when factoring the extra hormones that came along with the pregnancy, she was a force to be reckoned with.

Scully continued, barely pausing for air. "The bureau only grants 12 weeks for maternity leave. Do they intend to extend this in my case?"

Skinner was barely able to stammer out a "no" before she continued her assault.

"Well, then, how exactly do they propose that I go about this? Do they really expect me to take my maternity leave now, only to return to work still pregnant? What am I supposed to do when I go into labor - just have the baby on the floor of the basement office and then continue on with my paperwork and investigations? Is that their suggestion?"

"Of course not, Agent Scully." Skinner had recovered from his initial surprise at Scully's attack and he met her angry glare readily. "Their suggestion is that you remain at work until you are nearer to your due date and then take your maternity leave as planned."

"So, they would prefer that I endanger the lives of my - our - children rather than grant me a couple extra months of leave. This is outrageous. I will take this to a higher authority, if I have to."

"Any higher authority in the bureau will only follow the recommendation of Section Chief Blevins. It would be a waste of your time."

"I thought that the FBI pursued justice. Where is the justice in forcing me to choose to put the lives of my children at risk? There aren't any options here. I cannot perform my duties without risking their lives and you are trying to force me to do just that."

"If you can no longer function here at the FBI, you can choose to leave."

Mulder silent up to this point, contributed to the battle. "Is that what this is about? They want her to quit. They've always tried to split us up and they're going to use this to get their way."

Skinner stared back at the two agents, neither confirming nor denying the charge.

"They can't do this." Scully's anger was boiling inside her now. "There is legislation against this very thing. I could sue. I have rights and the FBI can't afford the kind of publicity a suit of this nature will bring. I will not stand for it."

At this, Scully hastily rose, quicker than Mulder had ever thought possible. Once on her feet, she began to sway. Mulder jumped up just in time to catch his wife as she fainted.

Skinner stood and watched as Mulder slowly eased Scully to the floor. Mulder ignored Skinner while he gently stroked Scully's cheek. Remembering the words of advice from the doctor, he quickly rose and grabbed a small pillow from the couch in the office. He gently placed the pillow under her right hip and returned to stroking her face. Skinner continued to stand, unmoving, watching in apprehension.

A minute passed and Scully slowly opened her eyes. They glanced around and took in her surroundings before finally locking on Mulder's eyes.

"I guess I really showed him, huh?"

Mulder smiled down at her. "Well, you did say that you weren't going to stand for it."

"I always have been too honest for my own good."

Mulder's grin grew slightly broader. "Do you want to wait a couple minutes, or are you ready to get up now?"

Scully lifted her head closer to his and whispered: "Where's Skinner?"

"Right behind me."

Scully closed her eyes in embarrassment. "Oh god. Let's go now."

Mulder straightened in front of her and grabbed both of her hands. He pulled until her feet were beneath her and she stood before him. Scully kept her head down so she wouldn't have to look at the AD and moved quickly to the door.

"Agent Scully will let you know by the end of the day what her decision will be."

Skinner only nodded silently in response, seating himself once again behind the desk. He waited until Agent Mulder had closed the door behind him before hanging his head in his hands.

An hour later, Mulder and Scully were still debating over their options, or lack thereof, when a knock came at their office door. AD Skinner admitted himself to the crowded room and Mulder jumped to his feet. Scully was about to rise when Skinner held up a halting hand.

"Please don't, Agent Scully."

Scully's cheeks flushed with embarrassment. Skinner let his eyes wander about the office, first taking in the walls, the clippings strewn about them, the agent he had just embarrassed, seated to his right, before finally resting on the man standing before him. He knew he had wronged this man, actually this pair, countless of times during their tenure under him and this most recent being the sharpest blow. He intended to fix it now.

"I, uh, think I have a solution to your problem." He paused making sure that both agents were listening to him. Satisfied, he continued: "I think that Agent Scully should stay with the X-Files. I think she should keep working and take her leave as originally planned."

Mulder was about to interrupt when Skinner proceeded quickly, taking the opportunity from him to speak. "I know there are risks to her health and the health of the baby..."

"Babies," Scully interjected. "Babies. I'm having twins. Babies."

"Babies," Skinner corrected. "However, almost all X-Files are cases that are found and originated by you, Agent Mulder. You can just not find any. If there aren't any cases to investigate, you and Agent Scully will just sit here in the office and the health risk will be removed, right?"

"But won't someone notice, Sir. Won't someone realize that we aren't doing anything?"

"Mulder, you're so far behind on your paperwork and case reports that you could just complete those and hand them in. Just stretch it out. If you run out of cases, find one that you can investigate yourself, while Agent Scully continues to stay here in the office."

Scully spoke up again. "I don't know, Sir. Are you sure it will work?"

Skinner turned his gaze to Scully. "I'm not sure of anything. It doesn't seem that you really have too many other options here. This is the best alternative I could come up with."

Scully looked up at Mulder, their eyes speaking for them. After several long minutes, she turned back to Skinner. "Okay, Sir. I've decided that I'm going to stay. I'll take my maternity leave as planned. Thank you."

March 26, 1997
FBI Headquarters
10:10 AM
30 weeks

Scully eyed Mulder as he shoved a pencil into the electric sharpener for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. Each day she fought to control her annoyance with his constant fidgeting. She understood his restlessness. They hadn't done anything constructive since their conversation with Skinner over two months ago. Well, unless you considered finally establishing a coherent method of filing as constructive, and she knew Mulder didn't.

She shared his restlessness to some degree. Her mind was restless. She missed arguing with Mulder about some insane theory. She knew her mind was sluggish, that right now she could never counter each of his points as accurately as she had before. But as restless as her mind was, her body was exhausted. She couldn't imagine trying to investigate a case right now. She loved that she could just come into the office and sit. Her only regret was that she didn't have a big soft recliner at her desk. Then she could rest comfortably.

But Mulder was different. He wasn't saddled with an extra thirty (okay, it was getting closer to forty) pounds to drag him to exhaustion. His mind was restless and his body was restless. At home, she could manage his excess energy. She could send him out jogging, or ask him to rub her feet or to cook her dinner. There were advantages to his restlessness; he would do anything for her, just for the sake of doing. At work though, he was confined inside these four walls and she really thought he was developing a severe case of claustrophobia.

Thankfully, the situation hadn't strained their relationship. She had been worried; this was the first real test they had faced. They were winning. Scully had yet to sense any resentment from Mulder. He wanted these babies safe and healthy as much as she did. She had always believed that Mulder's quest for the truth would always be of the utmost priority in his life. Somewhere along the line, she, and their growing family, moved into that place in Mulder's life previously reserved for the truth. And, although she knew that when the time was right, their search would continue, she was happy to be the most important thing in his life right now.

They hadn't made love since before the ultrasound. She vaguely remembered that last time. It had been satisfying, but now that she knew there would still be months before it would happen again, she wished she had made it more memorable. She'd offered to pleasure him on several occasions, but he had refused. He didn't want something he couldn't offer in return and they had entered a stage of their marriage that they shouldn't have reached for several years, or ever at all. She missed the intimacy of making love to Mulder, more than the act itself. (Soon, soon enough. We've waited years, what's a couple of months?)

She opened the leather-bound journal. She had been bringing it to work every day. It helped to pass the time and she was happy that she now had the time to write more completely to her children. She opened to one page that remained completely empty - it's space reserved for possible baby names.

"Mulder, you know, in a little over two months we're going to have two bundles of joy to bring home and we still don't have anything for them to wear or sleep in and we still don't know what we're going to call them."

"You mean we can't just call them Mulder and Scully, or Scully-Mulder."

Scully returned Mulder's sheepish grin. "Somehow I think they wouldn't appreciate it. I'm serious Mulder. We should at least start tossing around some ideas."

"Well, I do know for certain that there will be no "Fox's" in our family after me."

"Really Mulder? Gee, I thought you liked your first name, but wanted to keep me at a distance so you made me use your last name instead." Scully ducked the paper he tossed in her direction. "What do you think of 'Addison' for a boy?"

"'Addison'? That's a last name."

"It's fitting. He'd feel right at home with his parents 'Scully' and 'Mulder'. And we could name his brother 'Carter'."

"You mean like the guy from ER. I don't know."

"Well, I'm writing them down anyway."

"Writing them down?" Mulder rolled his chair out from behind his desk and over beside Scully. "Is that the book I gave you?"

"Yes, and it has a page for baby names. It's pretty early in the book too, but it's been sadly blank until now."

Mulder looked at the page. It was completely blank except the single line at the top that read: 'Here are some of the names I thought to give you.'

"Tell you what Mulder, I'll give you half." She wrote 'Mom' and 'Dad' on the top of the page and drew a line dividing the page in half. On her side she wrote the names 'Addison' and 'Carter'. "Any time you get an idea for a name, tell me and I'll add it to the page."

"Okay, well put down 'Matthew' and 'Michael' for me."

Scully made a face. "Those names are so common. They'd have to go through school sharing their names with two or three other kids and being referred to as 'Mike M.'"

"Easy for you to say, *Dana*. You didn't have to spend your life being the only person in the world with the name 'Fox'. Original names aren't always the best way to go. Believe me, I know."

"Well, how about 'Jacob' or 'Cody'? Those are a little unique, but not off-the-wall."

"'Scott' or 'Kyle'."

Scully added the names to Mulder's side of the list. Mulder watched over her shoulder as she wrote. He continued to watch her as she pondered the next possible addition to the list. Her pen tapped idly against the pages of the book.

"Hey Scully?" His voice had changed from its earlier playful tone, and she turned to face him. "Can I look at the book, I mean, can I read it, some of it?"

Scully felt shy all of a sudden. She knew Mulder knew and shared most of the things she had written, but it was different to let him read it. It was like letting someone read your diary even when there's nothing exciting to read in it. There was nothing wrong with it, but this book was the last bit of privacy she held. She had, at one time, been a very private person. (This is your husband, Dana. And the father of the very children you're writing to. He already is a big part of your life. Let him in a little more.)

Just as Mulder was about to recant his request, Scully pushed her chair away from the desk. "Sure Mulder. Of course." Pausing as she rose from her chair, she continued: "I'm going up to the cafeteria for a juice. Want anything?"

He shook his head in response, already entranced with the book. She was thankful for the opportunity to give him some privacy while he read, and also for the excuse to leave so she wouldn't have to sit and watch him read what she had written.

Mulder flipped to the first page of the book and began reading.

'Day One: Today is not really day one, but it is the first day that I know, for certain, that you are here with me. Truly, it is 6 weeks into my pregnancy, into the beginning of your life inside me. The first person I told was Mulder, your father.

'My feelings, now that I know, are: excitement, happiness, nervousness, fear, joy, delight. There isn't a single word that can sum up how I feel right now. I'll be honest. You were not a planned part of our lives, but we are excited to have you in them. Your father is so very excited and happy that he went out and bought this book for me within an hour of my telling him. I will warn you now that he is a very passionate man. He will adore you and worship you and dedicate his every spare moment to making you happy. I am nervous. Motherhood is something that I have always planned to be part of my life and I hope that I am worthy of the challenge of loving and raising you so that you might grow into the wonderful person I know that you can be. The road will not be easy and will be full of challenges and obstacles, but I know that in the end, the journey will have been worth it. We will be rewarded with you.'

Mulder paged ahead, skimming over the pages where Scully had filled in a small family tree, and information about what they did for a living, how they met and all the little details that made up their past. He stopped at the date marked December 4, 1996.

'I have been honest with you up to this point in the book and I feel I must continue that honesty now. Today, your father and I had our first argument. Don't get me wrong, we've had spats before - over who was going to cook dinner, who was going to do the paperwork, who left the toilet seat up in the bathroom, again - but this was different. This made me seriously question the future of our relationship. But fear not; that wonderful, passionate man redeemed himself splendidly. Today, your father proposed to me. It was beautifully romantic; we danced in our living room to the song "Have a Little Faith in Me" by Jewel, an artist who was partially responsible for our relationship progressing in the first place. He asked me if I could have faith in him, forever, and after a little amusing confusion on my part, I agreed. And then, of course, he had forgotten the ring and had to run up stairs to get it. Your father has an eidetic memory, but can forget the most obvious things. It's a beautiful ring, so it was well worth the wait. It looks as though there may be a chance that you may be born to married parents. I think this gives you an idea that we don't always do things the conventional way. You should get used to that.'

Mulder continued to read, basking in Scully's thoughts and emotions after certain cases, after their wedding, after having finally painted the nursery. He was staring at the ultrasound, having finished reading her entry for that day when Scully returned. He looked at her, tears in his eyes, at the sound of the door closing.

Scully took in Mulder's tears and the ultrasound in his hand and knew exactly what part of the book he was reading. She moved immediately to his side and put her arm around his shoulders. He pulled her onto his lap, her large form barely fitting into the chair, and he buried his face in her neck. She stroked the back of his neck as his silent tears dampened her collarbone.

She took the ultrasound from his hand and looked at it. It was the first ultrasound. She had since had two more, each four weeks apart. The problem hadn't corrected itself, as they had hoped and she was beginning to fear that it never would. It would mean that she would need a Cesarean Section and, despite the incredible pain she knew would come with birth, she wanted to have these babies they way that nature intended.

Mulder raised his head from her shoulder and wiped uselessly at the watermark left there. "Sorry," he mumbled.

"It's okay, Mulder. It'll dry."

"It's just, I try to forget about how scared I am for you and the twins, but I am scared and I can't forget." He leaned back so he could see her face better. His hand reached up and stroked her cheek. "You are everything I have and I don't want to lose you. I can't lose you."

"I know, Mulder. I'm not going anywhere. I really think it's going to be okay. Honestly. If you read further you'll see that I'm not as worried as I was about the placenta. I'm worried that I'm not going to get the chance to have these babies the way they were meant to be born - with all the pain and screaming and crushing of your hand that comes with it."

Mulder smiled at her and dropped his hand to her swollen abdomen, stroking it as he had her cheek. She continued: "I'm 30 weeks Mulder. I'm not saying that it would be a good thing, but if I went into labor today, there's a very good chance that these babies will be fine. Small, but fine."

"Now, before I crush you..." Scully struggled off of Mulder's lap and moved to sit in her own chair.

Mulder chuckled and massaged his legs. "Thanks. I didn't want to say anything, but I thought I was going to lose my feet if you didn't get up soon." To this, he received a playful slap from Scully, who then shoved his chair out of the way.

"Back to your own desk, G-man. You've read enough for now. I've been writing in this thing for over five months - you can't read it all in one day. Besides, I've got a couple of names to add to the list." Scully flipped to the right page and scribbled the names down.


"Well - what, Mulder?"

"Aren't you going to run them by me?"

"I don't have to, you'll read them eventually."

"Oh, come on Scully. I have to tell you all my names so you can write them down. I should get to hear all yours, too."

"'Brenna' and 'Regan'"

Mulder made a face. "For a boy? Where'd you come up with those?"

"Those are girl names Mulder. Have you forgotten that we don't know what we're having?"

"Oh. Well, for a girl, I like 'Katherine' or 'Kaitlyn'."

"I have to use my veto power here, Mulder. Katherine's my middle name and I don't want to name our children after anyone - me, you, my mother, your sister, my brother, no one. I think that's like living in the past, and let's face it, our pasts are not all sunshine and roses."

"Sorry Scully. I agree with you and, to be honest, I only think of you as 'Scully'. I wasn't thinking of you when I said 'Katherine'." Mulder grinned at her. "Veto accepted."

"Okay, how about 'Autumn'?"

"It's a season, Scully."

"But it has a nice sound to it: 'Autumn Mulder'."

"Her initials would be AM, like the radio band and the time of day."

"C'mon, Mulder. You're getting a little crazy. We'd have to get rid of all 'A' names and 'P' names for that matter. Oh and don't forget about the 'F' names - like Fox Mulder. Did you get teased about having the initials 'FM'?"

"Of course not. They were too busy teasing me about being named 'Fox'."

"I'm putting it down."

"Hey, don't I have veto power?"

"Sure you do, but you have to justify your veto with a rational, logical explanation. You didn't, so it stays."

Mulder pouted and tried his best puppy-dog look, but Scully held her ground. "Well, if we're going to consider 'A' names, then I like 'Allysa' and add 'Haylee' to the list."

Scully pushed the book off to the side of her desk. She opened a catalogue she'd been keeping in the office. They hadn't furnished the nursery yet and they were quickly running out of time. Mulder, realizing Scully wasn't going to entertain him any longer, rolled back to his desk. He settled himself in with a loud sigh.

"Mulder, why don't you go through all the backlogged cases and find something to investigate - something that seems benign, but warrants checking out. It'll give you something to do."

"Scully, I can't do that. You just never know with X-Files. Don't forget that I thought there wasn't even an X-File in the case in Minneapolis, the one with Donnie Pfaster, and look what happened there."

"That was different, Mulder. You did think that it was the work of a sick individual. You were right."

"And what about in Dudley, Arkansas. Those crazy people who worked at Chaco Chicken almost chopped your head off. You didn't think there was a case that time. You thought it was a waste of our time. And look what happened."

"But Mulder, I won't be there this time. I won't be involved in the investigation."

"And you weren't involved in the case with Duane Barry. I can't take the risk, Scully. It's not worth it. And I'm not leaving you at home alone to go and investigate some useless case. It's bad enough that we have you in the office at all. That's enough risk for me."

Scully relented and turned back to the catalogue. After about ten minutes she spoke up again.

"Hey Mulder. I know what you can do. You can go pick up some lunch. I'm having a craving for garlic bread. I don't care what else you get, as long as you get me some garlic bread."

"At your service, Mrs. Mulder." He jumped up and kissed her quickly on the cheek. "I'll be back in a bit. By the way, add Hannah, Riley and Keri to the list."

He threw on his coat and headed out the door immediately. Scully smiled at his back as he disappeared around the corner. (Thank god he has energy to spare for the both of us.)

The End.

Title: Complications - A Favor for Scully VIII
Author: Scarlet Scully
Rating: PG
Category: XRA
Keywords: MSR, MS - married, babyfic
Spoilers: there are some references to the mytharc, but I'm in season 4, so I think everyone's okay.
Archive: sure, anywhere. Drop me a line if you get a chance, so I can check out your site.
Disclaimer: They're not mine. I did *not* make this. I'm not making any money off this, unless of course my plan to use keystrokes as a new energy source pans out. Until then, please don't sue. I don't have anything anyway.

Summary: As Mulder and Scully near the end of the pregnancy, they begin work on an X-File that sheds some light on the truth they've been seeking for so long.

Author's notes: For those of you who have followed along throughout the long, crazy ride - THANKS. Who would've thought that it would be a year later before I'm finally near finishing this beast! I've babbled for long enough now. Let's get on with the show. I hope it was worth the wait.

FBI Headquarters
Washington, DC
April 21, 1997
8:58 AM
34 Weeks

Mulder followed Scully into the Assistant Director's office, his hand firmly placed at the small of her back. He smothered a smirk as she squeezed between the AD's secretary and the doorframe. He helped her into her usual seat before quickly proceeding to his place at her right. Once both were comfortable, the AD handed Mulder a file. Puzzled, Mulder opened the plain manila folder and scanned the contents it held.

"Um, sir?" Mulder looked up at the AD, confused. "Is this a case you're assigning to me?"

"Actually, Agent Mulder, the case has just been declared an X- File. It is assigned to both you and Agent..."

"Excuse me, sir," Mulder interrupted, "But I thought we had an agreement. I think I can handle this on my own."

"I don't recall any official agreements, Agent. And, I know that Agent Scully's expertise is specifically needed here. You would've realized that, had you fully read the case file."

At this point, Scully intervened. "Sir, rather than investigate this case, I would request to begin my maternity leave immediately, earlier than I had originally planned."

"Agent Scully, I will relay that request for you, but in the mean time, you will investigate the case you have been assigned."

Skinner held a silencing hand up to Agent Mulder. The former fought to control his body as he almost visibly squirmed under the expressions of shock and betrayal directed his way. Expressions that were quickly changing to outrage and disgust, he noted.

"Agents, you both know that we had an *unofficial* agreement. You should also both recognize that I have no control over cases that come across my desk and are assigned specifically to your division. I understand that this is not an ideal situation and we all hoped we could avoid it, but unfortunately, this is not the case."

Pausing long enough to let them know that no further discussion would be tolerated, Skinner proceeded to brief them on the case. "A small, unidentified boy, estimated to be about 5 years of age, wandered into a local diner in a remote community about 2 hours outside of DC. The waitress there took care of him intermittently throughout the day. At the end of her shift, she was prepared to bring him to the local police department, but found he had fallen into a coma. He was rushed to the nearest hospital where they tried valiantly to treat him, but he died shortly after he was admitted. The ME could not identify a cause of death and the child's identity has yet to be ascertained.

"The body has been shipped to Quantico, so Agent Scully can perform a second autopsy, and attempt to determine the cause of death. Agent Mulder, the name and address of the waitress are listed in the file, along with the location of the diner. I would suggest starting with her.

Turning back to Scully, Skinner concluded his monologue: "Agent Scully, I'm sure that the Section Chief will be more inclined to grant your request for earlier maternity leave if you have completed your autopsy on this case. This is your strength and the FBI could really use your help in this matter."

After several seconds pause, Skinner began rearranging the items on his desk, indicating that the agents were dismissed. Scully rose slowly from her seat, a feat in and of itself, and turned to face Mulder. He remained fixed in his seat, as though he might protest further, but finally rose and joined Scully. They exited the office together, each having already decided that they would solve this case as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Quantico, VA
3:15 PM


"Hey Scully, how's it going?"

Scully brushed impatiently at a hair on her forehead and sighed into the phone before answering. "Well, Mulder, I don't have any answers for you yet. I've sent a couple of samples to the lab for analysis. Skinner wasn't exactly accurate in his briefing though. This little boy died as a result of massive system failure throughout his body."

"Caused by what?"

"Well, that's the $64,000 question, isn't it?" She smiled into the phone. "So, how are things coming on your end?"

"Not much yet. I do know that that boy traveled pretty far, no matter where he came from. There isn't much to Orkney Springs, VA. The diner that Skinner referred to is called a restaurant around these parts. I'm sure you wish you could join me for a meal here."

Scully chuckled softly before continuing. "How about missing persons? Any luck there?"

"Not yet. How are you feeling?"

Scully's mouth grew into a big smile. "I was wondering how long it would take you to ask me that. I'm doing okay - a little tired, but fine nonetheless. Although I feel pretty ridiculous in these scrubs." She looked down and stroked her belly through the tight fabric. "Apparently they don't have any in maternity sizes. They had to get a pair so big that the sleeves nearly reach my wrists and I probably could've cut the legs in half and still rolled them up a couple of times."

Mulder laughed on his end of the line. "Hey, I should be done here in about a half hour. It'll be about 3 hours before I make it home. Do you want me to pick anything up?"

"I'll have dinner waiting, Mulder."

Scully turned the phone off with a smile. Her thoughts returned to the case as she studied the small boy's face on the table. His dark hair and olive complexion suggested that he might be of Latino descent. (Or Italian, or French, or Greek,) she lamented to herself. There wasn't much to go on from his description. They needed to identify the boy, first and foremost. Then, hopefully, his identity and the results of the tests she had ordered would lead them to a clear understanding of why he had died.

Her thoughts were interrupted as a sharp pain lanced across her back. Wearily, she left the autopsy room to change and wait for Mulder. (Maybe a massage and a quick nap before we head back out.) Scully's grimace turned slightly to a smile as she imagined the feel of Mulder's hands working at her aching muscles, her own efforts a far cry from his effectiveness.

Orkney Springs, VA
April 22, 1997
2:47 PM

Mulder knew that Scully was taking her doctor's orders seriously, for once. Not only had she let him investigate the warehouse on his own today, but she had convinced him to stay home with her rather than investigating last night. (Maybe I'm taking them seriously, too.)

Although he worried about Scully being on her feet for so long, Mulder had to admit that he was happy to be productive again. He hadn't turned up anything intriguing yet, but at least he wasn't cooped up in the office.

Mulder turned the corner and entered the parking lot of the warehouse he had spotted the day before. He was just getting out of the car when his cell phone rang.


"Hi Mulder, it's me."

"Hey Scully. What's up?"

"Well, I think I know how that little boy died."

"You *think*, Scully?" Mulder grinned at the phone. "I was hoping for better than that."

"Seriously Mulder. There's something wrong with the genetic composition of the boy's DNA. His body is completely lacking in the amino acid Lysine. That's why he died. His body couldn't correctly synthesize proteins."

"But what would cause that, Scully?"

"That's what I don't know. I don't know of any diseases or viruses or bacteria that could cause this type of genetic defect. I'm still checking some books though. Any luck on the boy's identity?"

"No luck yet. I'm just getting ready to check out the warehouse that I saw yesterday. The waitress didn't have anything new to tell me."

"Mulder, this type of genetic defect doesn't just emerge. That means that someone has been taking care of him. They had to make sure that his diet was supplemented with Lysine or he would've died long ago. Are there any clinics around there?"

"None that I've seen, but I'll ask around. Scully, make sure you don't work too late."

Scully smiled into the phone. "I'm not working too hard today, Mulder. I'm mostly doing research at a desk. It's just like sitting around in the office. And Mulder, be careful. If this is leading where I think it's leading, there might be something more deliberate involved."

"I will and I'll see you at home tonight."

"Hey Mulder, call me if you get any new leads."

After several hours of back-straining research, Scully's cell phone rang from somewhere behind her. After a couple of rings, she retrieved the phone and finally answered.

"Why aren't you home yet?" Mulder's accusing tones sounded through the line.

"I'm just finishing up here, BOSS," she snapped back. "I was hoping to finish most of the research tonight so I wouldn't have to come back here tomorrow. I hope that's okay with you."

Mulder was taken aback by Scully's angry retort and quickly apologized. "Sorry, Scully. I was just worried about you when you didn't answer at home. Apology accepted?"

"Of course, Mulder," Scully sighed into the phone. "And Mulder, I'm sorry I snapped at you. I'm just really tired and my back is killing me."

"Well, I think you need to pack it in for the night then."

"I will as soon as I get the outcome of these last tests."

"I'm on my way home now, Scully, and I think I've made a real breakthrough here."

Her back pain and tests completely forgotten, Scully quickly replied: "What did you find?"

"A new test subject for you, only this one's still alive." Mulder reached over and tousled the long blonde hair on the sleeping girl beside him.

"Mulder...what have you done?"

"Relax, Scully. You know that warehouse I wanted to check out. Well, it turns out that it's some kind of clinic or test facility or something like that. Anyway, I didn't get a really good look around, but I did find a little girl in some sort of daycare room and decided to bring her to a better daycare -- our house."

"Mulder," Scully's voice reverted to a harsh whisper. "That's kidnapping."

"I think that this little girl has been away from her parents for a long time, and not because of any action by me."

"I haven't been able to find any known disorders that resemble what killed this little boy. If it were possible, I would suspect some kind of genetic engineering, but we don't have the science for that possibility yet."

"At least, not that you know of, but it may still exist."

"Even if it exists, Mulder. Why would someone engineer a person to be completely dependent on an artificial supplement?"

"To keep them in a controlled environment."

"That's crazy, Mulder. There's too much of a chance that someone would find out."

"Not really Scully. Think about it. If someone escapes, say a 5 year-old boy, he would die before anyone really knew what he was escaping from. There's no evidence for you -- or anyone else -- to find."

"Mulder, if -- and that's a big 'if' -- you're right about this, then you need to get some supplements for that little girl. Where are you right now?"

"About 20 minutes from home."

"Alright. I'm going to call in a prescription for Lysine supplements to the pharmacy near our house. It should be ready when you get there. I'll meet you at home in about an hour."

After making the required phone call and cleaning up the lab somewhat, Scully changed and headed to her car. She fumbled around in her briefcase to find her keys in the dark. Her reward at finally finding them was short-lived however, as she dropped them on the pavement near her door. She stared at them sternly and willed them to jump up back into her hand. (I never believed that Luke could do it either.) Admitting defeat, she began the arduous process of retrieving them from the ground.

After making it successfully to her hands and knees, she firmly had the keys in her grasp. She began the whole procedure again, in reverse this time, but had barely begun to rise when she felt cold, metal pressed against her temple.

"Don't move another inch."

The commanding voice was unmistakable in its seriousness and its identity.

"What the hell do you want, Krycek?"

"I love how you redheads get so angry when you're cornered. You really must have a thing for me Agent Scully -- you recognized my voice so quickly. I'm flattered, really."

"Get the hell away from me!"

"Easy red. It's very simple. Mulder took something of ours, so we're going to take something of his. You're going to come with me, and then we'll make a nice little trade."

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

"Don't play that game with me. You're so stupid some times. I mean, how long after the girl disappeared did you think we'd start checking for Lysine 'scripts?"

Scully remained silent, staring at the ground, intensely trying to think of an escape while intensely swearing at her own stupidity. (You sure are rusty.) She was still scouring her brain for possible courses of action, when she felt Krycek grip her tightly by her collar and yank her quickly upright. The parking lot seemed to turn on its side and then Scully's world faded to black.

"Shit. She passed out." Krycek cursed softly to himself while struggling to support Scully's weight. "I didn't even get to use the chloroform."

April 22, 1997
Georgetown, VA
Mulder/Scully Residence
10:03 PM

Mulder had finally given up on alternating between dialing Scully's cell phone and her lab only to receive no answer at either end. He picked up the phone again and dialed a different number.


"Sorry to disturb you sir."

"What the hell do you want Mulder?"

"Scully was supposed to be home over an hour ago. I tried her cell phone and the lab and I can't reach her. I'm worried."

Skinner's tone softened slightly. "What do you want from me?"

"Sir, can you have someone go to Quantico and check to see if her car is still in the parking lot, or if she is still in the lab?"

"Why don't you do that yourself, Mulder?"

"I, uh, don't want to leave the house right now." Mulder glanced at the sleeping form on the couch across from him.

"Am I to understand that you think Agent Scully might be missing and you *don't* want to check up on this yourself?"

Mulder could hear the incredulous tone of Skinner's voice and tried to keep the desperation out of his. "Sir, I'm hoping she might be stuck in traffic or held up at the lab and there's just something wrong with the phone and the battery is dead on her cell phone. I'm trying not to overreact here, but I would really appreciate it if you just did this one little thing for me. Please. I need to stay here in case she calls and needs me."

Skinner sighed on the other end. "Alright Mulder. I'll see what I can do. I'll get back to you as soon as I hear from security."

Almost two hours later, Mulder stopped pacing long enough to answer the pounding at the door. He opened it cautiously to admit Skinner whose facial expression revealed nothing to Mulder, as usual.

"Did you find her?" Mulder hadn't even let Skinner enter their home before questioning him.

"Mulder, why don't we go sit down, first?"

Mulder blocked Skinner's entrance to the living room. "No, sir. Tell me what's happened. I need to know now."

"It appears that Agent Scully has been kidnapped." Skinner put a steadying hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Her car is still in the parking lot and her briefcase and keys were lying on the ground by the driver's side door."

He watched Mulder absorb the news, watched as his face crumbled, shoulders slumped and began to shake. Just before he thought the man was about to cry, Mulder took a deep breath, straightened and silently motioned Skinner into the living room.

Mulder followed Skinner into the room and watched his posture change dramatically as he stood frozen in front of the toddler asleep on Mulder's couch.

Mulder interrupted Skinner as he turned to face him, the unspoken question formed on his lips. "I think she is the reason why Scully's missing."

At first, Mulder spoke quietly and slowly, but as he continued his words took on an angry bite that eventually turned to despair.

"She's the reason why Scully's missing and she's here because of me. Because I get so caught up in finding the truth that I can't see past the moment and realize the consequences of my actions. Realize that there are people out there who just won't let this happen. Realize that they will retaliate, like they do time and time again. But even though it's me they're after, they always go after her because they know that it's the best way to hurt me. So now she's missing. Scully's in danger again because of me."

"Mulder, maybe you had better start over again, from the beginning. Does this have anything to do with the case?"

"This is the case. I think that that little boy was being kept in the same place I found this little girl. It looked like a warehouse, but there was a large area underground and after wandering through several hallways that reminded me of research centers and hospitals, I found this room that looked like a day care. There were at least 15 toddlers in the room, but I didn't see any kind of supervision. I figured I had wandered in on a rare opportunity and hurriedly managed to convince her to come along with me."

"Can she talk yet?"

"She hasn't said anything to me. Scully had told me that the little boy had died of a massive system failure due to a genetic defect causing him to lack the ability to manufacture the amino acid Lysine. She also thought that this defect had most likely resulted from some kind of genetic engineering and would have to be monitored. I have to keep giving this girl Lysine supplements, just in case she has the same defect. Scully was going to run tests on her tomorrow."

"Mulder, I'm still not sure how all this genetic engineering and these children are related to Scully's disappearance."

"Don't you see, sir? We were close...too close. They're genetically engineered so they won't survive outside the lab. So that, if any children escaped, like that boy did, we wouldn't know that they were being used as lab rats. They took Scully because I took her. This little girl is proof. But I don't want the proof any more. I don't want it at the expense of Scully."

Scully woke slowly and her first sensation was a dull throbbing at the back of her head. She also had the vague idea that, were she not in a dark room, her vision would be blurry. Taking an inventory of her surroundings, her first realization was that she was lying on her back in a bed that strongly resembled a hospital bed.

(That's why I'm feeling so light-headed,) she thought to herself. Not wanting to let her captors know that she was awake, but needing to think clearly, Scully attempted to roll on her side. She quickly realized a fact her senses had yet to ascertain: her hands and feet were in restraints.

(So, this is definitely a hospital bed, but somehow I don't think you're in a nice, cozy hospital, Dana.) Her thoughts were becoming muddled and she felt the tingling of unconsciousness at the edges of her mind.

(Okay, kids, if I'm going to get us out of here, you're going to have to give me a little help.) Using the restraints for leverage, she managed to shift her weight slightly to the right side. The position wasn't very comfortable and twisted her left arm and leg awkwardly behind her, but she knew it was for the better as it would improve her blood flow and help her to think more clearly.

Scully waited patiently for her eyes to fully adjust to the lighting in the room. A sudden, sharp pain lanced across her back, causing her to inhale sharply. Scully bit her lip waiting for the pain to subside. (Look, I need to get us out of here, so I don't have time to deal with a sore back. I promise, when we're safe, I'll get a nice Mulder massage for you. Great, now I'm talking to my back.)

Her eyes, having sufficiently adjusted to the poor lighting, took in her surroundings. (Not much to look at.) Save the bed she was lying on, the room was completely empty. The walls, as far as she could tell, were white and featureless. Craning her neck to look behind her, she found nothing except the door. (Good job, Dana. Put your back to the only way out of here.) She debated the task of shifting to face the other way, but ruled it out. She didn't want to move around too much, in case there were cameras in the room. (No sense letting them know I'm awake before I have to.)

Her next task was to examine her restraints, or at least the one securing her right hand. (Standard issue hospital restraints.) She tried to wiggle her hand a little, hoping that her unconsciousness and small wrists had fooled her captors into not tying them securely. After several minutes of futile effort, Scully gave up, grudgingly congratulating the inventors on the ingeniousness of the design.

(Okay Mulder, I've done my part. You're going to have to take care of the rest.)

An unknown amount of time had passed when another pain caused Scully to gasp aloud. She clenched her jaw, waiting for the pain to pass. (This isn't your ordinary back pain,) she thought to herself.

By the time the third contraction had passed, Scully had recognized the pains for what they really were: labor. Tears filled her eyes as she realized the desperation of her current situation. (Please, God. Not like this. We've had so many difficulties already. I can't be in labor now. Let's forget about the fact that it's too soon. I'm tied up in some room and have no idea where I am or where Mulder is. I promise, I'll lie in bed until my due date. Just let us make it there.)

After the fourth contraction, Scully went into Doctor mode. She counted to 1035 before the next contraction came and felt a little better. Her contractions were at least 15 minutes apart, allowing for inaccurate counting on her part, so there was still time for Mulder to come and find her. (Mulder, please hurry.)

The room lit up as the door opened behind her and the smell of cigarette smoke filled her nose. Scully debated turning to face the man she knew was standing behind her. Before she had a chance to shift her weight, he had come around in front of her.

"Agent Scully, that hardly looks like a comfortable position."

"Why don't you untie me? I'm sure I'll be much more comfortable then."

"Unfortunately, I don't think you'd stay around long enough for us to get what we want. It's really unfortunate that, in your present condition, you have to be treated this way. I'm sure it can't be healthy for your children. But, I'm afraid that Agent Mulder didn't leave us any other alternative. He took something that was valuable to us, so we took something equally valuable to him."

Scully looked at him silently having nothing significant to contribute to the one-sided conversation. A sucking sound filled the room as he inhaled on his cigarette.

"I'm going to call Agent Mulder to arrange for an exchange. Assuming he cooperates, you shouldn't have to stay here much longer. I'm trusting you'll help in this matter, if he asks to speak to you."

Scully nodded silently and watched as the smoking man dialed a number on his cell phone.

Skinner sat on the chair opposite Mulder. "What do you need me to do?"

Before Mulder could respond the phone rang.

"Scully?" Mulder found himself holding his breath as he waited for an answer on the other line.

"No Agent Mulder, I'm afraid this isn't Agent Scully. Were you expecting a call from her?"

Skinner watched as Mulder jumped from his seat, his body rigid with anger. "Listen to me, you son-of-a-bitch! You better tell me what happened to Scully right now or I'll hunt you down and put a bullet between your eyes so fast you won't be able to finish sucking on the cancer stick you're sucking on right now."

"Now, now Agent Mulder. There's no need for such harsh words. You and I have a mutual problem; we both seem to be missing something. I have a very simple resolution to each of our problems and I'm just calling to offer it to you."

"You took her, you bastard! Where is she?!?" The sucking sound in response to Mulder's question enraged him even further. He was about to slam the phone down in disgust when a steady hand pushed the receiver back to his ear. Mulder looked at Skinner and thanked him wordlessly for reminding him of how desperately they needed to cooperate with this man.

As his ear neared the receiver, he heard the mocking voice on the other line: "You shouldn't be so quick to hurl insults and accusations. It was your hasty actions that drove me to reciprocate. I would have never involved Agent Scully in this matter, had I any choice. You acted first. You took something that belongs to me and I want it back. When my merchandise is..."

"Merchandise?" Mulder interrupted incredulously. "You're talking about a helpless, little girl, not a TV or a VCR."

"Exactly -- a very valuable little girl. As I was saying, when you return her to me, I will give you Agent Scully's location."

"No dice, Cancerman. You have to bring Scully with you. We'll do a straight exchange. I won't make a deal any other way."

"Agent Mulder, you don't get to call the shots in this deal. I hold all the cards. You will do as I say."

"Sorry, but no way. You don't hold all the cards. As you said, this is a very valuable little girl. I'm not giving her up unless I get Scully in exchange -- not some piece of paper with a fake address on it."

"There's going to have to be some trust on your part in this matter. I have no need of Agent Scully. As I said, I wouldn't have taken her had you not taken that girl first. You can trust me. I'll give you the correct address."

"Trust you? There's no way you're going to convince me to trust you. You...you know what, I want to talk to her right now. Let me talk to her. I need to know that she's okay."

Scully had missed a good portion of the conversation between her captor and her savior. She instead, had been intently focused on the pain ripping through her abdomen, biting her lip to stifle the sounds she wanted to make in response to her pain. As a result, she was surprised when CSM pressed his cell phone to her ear.

She listened mutely to the breathing on the other end of the line before her deductive reasoning skills kicked in. "Mulder?"

The anger she felt at herself for the fear heard in her voice as she uttered that simple word disappeared completely at the familiar voice that responded.

"Scully! Are you okay? Has he hurt you?"

Tears began streaming down her face. "Mulder, please come and get me."

"Oh, Scully. I'm trying. I promise you, I'm trying. You're okay, right Scully?"

Scully didn't want Mulder distracted by her current situation, but still wanted to convey the message of urgency. "I'm fine, Mulder. Please hurry."

"I will Scully. I love you."

Before she could respond, the phone was pulled away from her ear. The next voice she heard was that of her captor's.

"So, Agent Mulder. As I said, she's completely unharmed. Are you prepared to make the exchange?"

There was a brief moment of silence, followed by: "Yes, I will bring Agent Scully to the exchange point. Meet us, with the girl, in two hours in Conicville, at the intersection of Highway 42 and Cave Ridge Road.

Conicville, VA
Intersection of Highway 42 and Cave Ridge Road
April 23, 1997
2:23 AM

Skinner accompanied Mulder to the rendezvous. In his mind, there wasn't a question that he would. Had he not forced the case into their hands, had he stood up to his superiors, Scully would be safe at home, sound asleep in her bed. But the fact was that he hadn't and she was, instead, somewhere inside the car whose headlights glared brightly in his eyes. He sat poised, the cool metal of his gun reassuring in the palm of his hand. He had already opened his window to the cool spring night and the door was ever-so-slightly ajar. If need be, he could be firing within seconds of Mulder's signal.

Mulder walked to the front of the vehicle, in clear view of the occupants of both cars. The toddler stumbled uncaringly beside him, her small child's hand completely engulfed in his as he led her away from her sanctuary. Skinner considered the young girl thoughtfully. Years from now, when she looked back upon this night, if she could remember it, if she lived that long, she would realize that this was the night that she lost her greatest chance at having a normal life. (Maybe, *hopefully*), he thought, (she won't even know what she missed.)

"Bring her out here, you bastard!"

Scully could hear Mulder from inside the car. (Okay, it's show time, kids. I need to get out of this car and walk the fifty-or- so yards to your father and freedom without stopping dead in my tracks because of a contraction. If you help me do this, you can do whatever you want after that. Just let me get us out of here.) She hoped that pleading with her unborn children would stall their determination to be born, at least for a little while.

Yellow-tinged fingers wrapped around her forearm and pulled her a little closer to freedom. She rose slowly, not wanting to repeat the episode of earlier that night. Once out of the car, they released her. Krycek loosely wrapped his black leather arm around her neck, shielding his body with hers.

"Send the girl over," he demanded.

"Let Scully go first."

"Send the girl over. Then I'll let her go. It doesn't work any other way."

Scully watched as Mulder knelt and turned the girl to face him. She saw him point in her direction and her blonde head nodded slowly. He gave her a quick hug before sending her towards them. Scully felt a tear escape as she watched the tiny girl stumble towards them the way only a toddler could stumble. (My God, she's barely even three years old.)

The child paused halfway and looked back toward Mulder, uncertainly. He nodded his head and waved her onward. She could see him try to smile. (Poor Mulder. This is breaking his heart. What are these monsters going to do to this helpless little girl?)

As the thoughts ran through her head, the toddler began heading in their direction again, a little more earnestly this time. At the same time, Krycek relaxed his hold further on her.


It was a simple quiet word, but it was more than enough for her. She began walking toward Mulder, wishing that her condition didn't prevent her from running just to get there sooner. As she neared the child, she tried not to look at her. She tried to think of her own children and not this little lamb being sacrificed to save her, to save them. The girl was confused though, as she should be. She headed straight for Scully and stopped in front of her, raising her pudgy little arms, trusting, asking to be held.

Scully cleared the lump from her throat. (Oh, you poor thing. If only things were different. If only I weren't pregnant. If only I could run. I would pick you up and run away with you right now. But chances are, we'd both end up dead if I tried that.) Scully bent so her face was a little closer to the girl's. "No, sweetie, you have to go see that man." Her blues eyes took in the man in the direction Scully had indicated. She turned back to Scully and raised her arms again. "Oh sweetie, I wish I could, but I can't. You have to go see him."

Krycek, seeming to realize the problem, knelt down and held out his arms. As Scully turned, she was surprised to see him in this posture and even more surprised that he looked almost human. She straightened and continued to walk toward Mulder. Part of her hoped that this convinced the girl to complete the exchange and the other part of her hoped she would be followed straight into Mulder's arms and the safety they promised.

Mulder ran out to meet her once Krycek had the child in his possession. Skinner jumped out of the car, aiming his gun down the stretch of highway, providing cover as the two made their way to the safety of the car. By the time he closed the rear door, Scully's captors were speeding off in the opposite direction.

Mulder looked over to the slightly breathless form seated beside him, quickly checking for any noticeable sign of injury. "Are you okay, Scully?"

"I'm going to be okay, but we need to get to a hospital," she responded. Before he could respond, she added: "I'm in labor."

"Labor?!? It's too soon, Scully. You can't be in labor."

"I know Mulder, but that doesn't change the fact that I am."

"Maybe I should call an ambulance."

A silent witness to their conversation thus far, Skinner spoke: "Mulder, we're far enough from a hospital that an ambulance would probably take as long to get here and to the hospital as it would take us, if not longer."

Scully looked in his direction. "How far away is the nearest hospital?"

"The closest hospital is probably Shenandoah Memorial, in Woodstock, where they took the boy. You went there the other day, Mulder. How long will it take from here?"

"Almost an hour," Mulder figured. "But, at least I know where it's at."

She returned her gaze to Mulder. "Skinner's right. Besides, it usually takes hours for the first one t..."

Scully's voice broke off suddenly as her face screwed up in pain. Before he could react, she was gripping his hand forcefully in hers. As the contraction subsided, she loosened her grip.

"You're going to need this to drive." She smiled slightly as she released his hand. "Let's get going, Mulder. Whether we like it or not, these babies are coming."

Scully forced her mood to be light, allowing Mulder to focus on the task of getting them to the hospital both quickly and safely. In reality, despite the obvious improvement to her situation that freedom had provided, she knew that her greatest problems still lie ahead. She rubbed her belly gently, praying silently for the safety of the children inside.

The car ride continued in silence, each occupant busy with his or her own thoughts. The sole interruption to this silence occurring as each contraction passed. Scully muffled her pain through clenched teeth and fist, while Mulder quietly reminded her to breathe. Skinner felt useless in the backseat, an intruder. (I should at least be driving,) he thought to himself. He probably would have, had they known the truth of Scully's condition before they hastily left the exchange point.

Scully eyed the clock as her last contraction passed, thankful that she could finally properly time them. Her gratitude was minimal though. The now-accurate timing meant only one thing: her contractions were rapidly coming closer and closer together. They might not make it to the hospital in time. As the last thought crossed her mind, she felt a liquid seep through her panties and continue to flow down her leg.

"Shit!" Both Mulder and Skinner looked at her surprised, as she looked down at her legs. "Pull over Mulder!"

"What's going on Scully?" Mulder asked, while bringing the car to a gradual stop at the side of the highway.

"My water just broke." She gripped the dashboard tightly, having lost Mulder's hand momentarily, as the next contraction ripped through her abdomen.

Mulder gently stroked her back. "Your water broke? It couldn't... well, it shouldn't. Scully, I thought we had hours. Your contractions are so close, too close. This shouldn't be happening this fast."

"I know, Mulder," Scully growled through clenched teeth. "Do you think I'm controlling this? This isn't the way I want it to happen either."

"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. Sir?" Mulder turned to the man seated behind him, only to find that he already had his cell phone in hand and was dialing.

Turning back to Scully, he found her relaxed again in her seat. "Okay Scully, Skinner has the ambulance coming. What do you need me to do?"

"Mulder, you need to be prepared, in case the ambulance doesn't get here in time." She held her hand up to his protests. "Just in case. I need you."

Silenced, he held the hand she had used to silence him. Scully continued, "Do we have anything in the car to wrap the babies up in -- a towel, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, or anything like that?" As he began to shrug his shoulders, she pulled her hand from his, slightly annoyed. "Go look, we need *something*."

As Mulder moved to the back of the car, Scully pulled herself wearily from the car. She paced slowly at the side of the road, enjoying the feel of moving freely. She had been confined, in some way, for the better part of 5 hours and even this small movement helped to clear her mind and loosen her muscles.

"We're in luck Scully. I found a forgotten overnight bag in the trunk and there were a couple of t-shirts in it. I even think they're clean."

She could sense Mulder's worry, despite his attempts at appearing lighthearted. She completed her circuit and moved to the rear passenger door of the car, opening it, but not yet ready to enter. Mulder moved to stand before her and she could read the fear in his eyes, despite the brave mask her fronted for her. She placed a comforting hand on his arm.

"I'm scared too. It's okay to be scared, but I need you to be strong too Mulder."

The last of his name was lost as she gasped at the onslaught of the next contraction. The contractions were closer still and she knew that time was quickly slipping away. She felt Mulder's strong hands supporting her as her knees buckled beneath the force of the latest contraction. As her strength returned, he removed one hand to wipe the dampness from her forehead and brush the hair from her face.

"Okay, I've got the t-shirts. What's next?"

"When it's time, just make sure you don't drop our children, Mulder." A small smirk formed on his face. "I'm serious. Newborns are very slippery. Your first concern is holding on to them. Then, after the first one, you'll have to cut the cord. You need to tie 2 knots 2 inches apart, the first one 4 inches from the baby. Then cut in between those 2 knots. I think the best thing to use will be..."

"Scully," he interrupted. "Don't you think that you should do that? I mean, you are the doctor, after all."

She shook her head in response. "After the first baby is born, I'll be busy with the second and probably too tired after either to be of much help. That's why I'm telling you now. Grab the first aid kit from the trunk; there should be some gauze and scissors in it for you to use."

As Mulder returned to the trunk, Skinner ended his phone call and reported its outcome. "The ambulance is on its way. The dispatcher warned that it would be at least 20 minutes before it gets here, if not longer. Is there anything you need me to do?"

"You can help Mulder cut the gauze into long, thin strips. He's going to need it to tie the cord and he'll need at least 4 strips."

Suddenly, she grabbed his arm. "Oh, not another already. Oh God! Oh God! Okay, I need...I need to walk."

Skinner, feeling more than a little awkward, walked her through the pain. Mulder reached her side before the pain was over, first aid kit in one hand, t-shirts thrown over another shoulder.

"Is it just me or are these things starting to last longer?"

"I think you're just getting tired, Scully. Why don't you sit back down?"

Skinner relieved Mulder of his accessories, clearly happy to exchange the pregnant woman for the first aid kit.

"Mulder, I don't think the ambulance is going to make it on time." Scully was breathless at this point, sweat running in tiny rivulets along the side of her face. "This is going to happen soon. You need to be ready."

His face turned pale. "But Scully, it's too soon. And what about your placenta? What about what Susan said?"

"Mulder, I know it's too soon. And, as for the rest, there's nothing you or I can do about that, so let's not worry about it right now. You just need to focus on catching our children, wiping their faces so they can breathe, wrapping them so they will be warm and cutting the cord. Each one, that's all you have to do. I need you to do this, they need you to do this."

Mulder nodded his agreement, his face set as he prepared himself mentally for the task before him, his fear banished for the time being. Scully failed to see all of this as she squeezed her eyes shut as the pain tore once again through her abdomen.

"Breathe, Scully." She panted dutifully in response to his command. Mulder whispered a quick prayer to whatever god might be listening, begging for the ambulance to arrive on time.

"Help me with my pants Mulder. Then you need to check to see if I'm dilated."

Mulder paled. "Scully, I don't think I can do this."

"You have to. I can't do it alone and I don't want Skinner to help me. I need you Mulder."

Mulder took a deep breath and nodded silently. Scully lay back while Mulder worked at removing the lower half of her clothes. Skinner had moved to the trunk of the car and returned, handing Mulder a blanket, offering Scully some privacy.

"Does it look like I'm dilated?"

"Uh, I guess so. I don't know Scully. It looks pretty big to me."

Before she could respond, another contraction began. "Oh god, Mulder. I think we're getting close."

"Scully? There's alot of blood here. Is this okay? Are you okay?"

Scully squeezed her eyes shut against the pain and the knowledge Mulder had just given her. She had hoped that her placenta had moved since the last ultrasound, but it didn't. The blood proved it. Both she and the babies were in danger now. (Oh god, please let me get them through this. Please let them be healthy. Please let me be strong enough.) There were a thousand other prayers she wanted to pray, but she knew Mulder needed her now. She needed him to be focused, to not worry, to be strong.

"Don't worry about it Mulder. Get ready. I'm going to push on the next contraction." She paused to catch her breath. "Remember what I told you."

"Okay, Scully. As long as it's okay." He looked at Skinner. "Sir?"

Skinner moved back to Mulder's side, to assist him, if needed. He didn't have any experience in childbirth, but he was shocked by the amount of bleeding involved. It didn't seem logical. If Scully continued to lose this much blood, surely she would, at the very least, pass out. The sounds of Scully screaming brought his mind back to the present.

"Okay, Scully, keep pushing," Mulder coaxed. "Jeez, there so much blood. Scully, are you sure this is..."

"Will you shut up about the blood Mulder!?!" She hollered before he could finish. "Just...worry...about... the baby!" She fell back against the seat as the contraction finished.

Mulder reached up and brushed the hair off her forehead.

"Did you see the head?"

"No, we're not that close yet, I guess."

"We are. I can tell."

"How? Have you done this before and I just didn't know?" Mulder smiled at her slightly.

"Not that I know of." She grinned back. "Uhn...here we go again."

"Oh God Scully, I see something. I think it's a head. Keep pushing. Keep pushing. It's out Scully! The head's out!"

Scully collapsed, breathless. "Okay, Mulder, this next push should do it. Ready?"

Scully didn't know if she was ready. She already felt so weak. She knew she was losing blood rapidly. (Who am I kidding? I'm hemorrhaging. Please just give me the strength to last through labor.) She propped herself up on her elbows and pushed with the next contraction.

"Okay, keep pushing...good...keep...almost there...almost...it's out! It's a...it's a girl, Scully! She's a girl! Oh god, she's so beautiful."

Skinner handed Mulder a gauze pad and he used it to gently wipe the mucus off the baby's face. She responded by wailing loudly.

"She sounds okay Mulder. Is she okay?" Scully strained to look at her little girl.

"She's perfect. She's so tiny, but she's perfect."

Scully smiled. "You have to cut the cord - 2 knots, 2 inches..."

"I know Scully. Don't worry. Rest, you're not finished yet."

Mulder held his daughter while Skinner used 2 thin strips of gauze to tie the knots in the cord. He held the scissors out to Mulder. "Here you go, Dad. You should do the honors."

"No. You go ahead. I'm not ready to let go of her yet."

Skinner obliged and handed Mulder a t-shirt. He wrapped the tiny infant in the material, protecting her against the cool night air. He was about to ask Scully if she wanted to hold her daughter when he heard her groan loudly. He looked up from the tiny face to see her bearing down with the next contraction.

"Already?" He took a deep breath and looked over to Skinner. "Sir?" Skinner took the crying baby from his arms.

Mulder reached out and grabbed Scully's hand. "Okay, Scully. No rest for the wicked, right? I'm here. I'm ready."

Scully was completely oblivious to what was going on around her. She was focused on one task and one task alone: bringing their second child into this world. She was exhausted after the first twin was born. All she wanted to do was close her eyes and go to sleep. (Just get through this. Just get through this. You can do this Dana. You have to.)

She collapsed as the contraction ended. "I can't do this Mulder. I can't. I don't have anything left. I can't. I'm so tired, so weak."

"You can Scully. I know it. You can do anything. Just a little bit longer. You just need to stay awake a little longer."

"Okay, Mulder. I love you."

"I love you too Scully."

Scully struggled up to a seated position and pushed with every ounce of energy she could pull from her reserves.

"I can see the head. Keep going, Scully. Keep pushing. You're doing great. It's almost out. It's..."

She sank back.

"Don't stop now. You were almost there."


"You can. Scully, you are the most powerful woman I know. You can do anything. You can do this."

Scully's eyes were closed. There were tears running down her cheeks. Her fiery locks were plastered to her forehead. Mulder leaned forward and kissed her forehead. He looked over his shoulder to the man holding his daughter. "Put the baby in the front seat and come around to the other side."

Skinner carefully placed the infant, who was still crying, but with less urgency now, in the front seat of the car. He opened the rear door on the driver's side and looked first at Scully's pained face and then at Mulder's worried one. He was surprised to see the amount of blood on Mulder's shirt. His arms and shirtsleeve's were saturated and good portion of the shirt front was crimson.

"Okay Scully. Are you ready? You're going to push and Skinner's going to help you up and I'm going to catch this baby. You're not alone, we're here to help you. I can hear the ambulance too. It's not too far, but we're not going to wait. We're here to help, but we can only do so much. You've got to do the rest and I know you can Scully."

Scully opened her eyes and searched in his hazel depths. Somewhere in there she found strength and surrounded herself in it. (I can do this. Just this, it's all I have to do. My baby needs me. I will be there for it today, even if I'm not ever there again.) She continued to stare into Mulder's eyes and she nodded.

Mulder took her cue and nodded at Skinner. "Okay Scully...puuusshh."

Scully felt herself lifted as Skinner's strong hands gripped her shoulders and held her steady. She could feel her body stretch and tear and she screamed with the pain of it and with the determination to keep pushing. The rest of the world closed away for her and she focused on Mulder's face. Emotions changed rapidly as concentration gave way to hope which gave way to wonder and finally, elation.

"She's out! It's another girl Scully! She's beautiful, she's perfect. Oh god, Scully, I love you."

Scully smiled wearily at him as he met her gaze with one of pure joy. Tears blurred his vision. The ambulance drew closer and its siren drowned out the words as Scully tried to speak.

(Let me see them. Let me see her. Let me see her.) The mantra repeated through her mind, but she couldn't find the strength to voice the words. Her lips moved, but she wasn't even sure if they actually formed the words she was thinking. She saw Skinner tie and cut the cord and Mulder wrap her tiny daughter in a t-shirt. He was cradling her so carefully. (Take care of my girls Mulder. Tell them I love them. I love you. Let me see them. Please let me see them at least once. Please let my eyes stay open. I know you will show me my babies. I love you, all of you. Don't forget.)

Mulder looked at his wife. Her eyes were closed, but her lips were moving slightly. He couldn't hear her over the noise of the siren. The ambulance was actually visible in the distance and growing closer by the second. He looked at his first daughter and she was awake, but amazingly, amidst the chaos, she had stopped crying. He moved to the far side of the car and knelt near Scully's head. He leaned forward and whispered in her ear.

"Do you want to hold your daughter?"

She didn't answer.

Mulder shifted the baby and freed a hand. With this hand, he stroked her cheek. "Scully, love. Scully, open your eyes and look at your little girl."

She still didn't answer.

The ambulance came roaring to a stop next to their vehicle. The paramedics rushed out of the back of the rig and Mulder rose to meet them. A woman reached him first.

"Are you hurt sir?"

"No, my wife..."

"Whose blood is that?"

"My wife, she just had twins..."

"Twins? Where's the other baby?"

"Over here Connie." A man stood next to Skinner, listening to the baby's heartbeat. "She's small, but everything seems to be okay."

Connie turned back to Mulder. "Where did all the blood come from?"

Mulder was frustrated with the woman who continued to berate him with questions and cut him off before he could answer. "As I was saying, my wife just gave birth to twins. I delivered them. The blood got on me during delivery."

"All this blood is from childbirth?" Mulder's frustration was replaced with worry. "Where's the mom?"

"She's in the back seat...she's okay, right. She said it was okay, all the blood. She said not to worry."

The woman named Connie ignored Mulder and turned to Scully in the backseat. "Get the cart, Tim! We need to get her out of here, stat! She's not breathing." There was a short pause. "She's got no pulse!"

"What's going on?"

"Get out of the way, sir. We need some space."

Connie pulled Scully from the car and began CPR. Tim arrived with the defibrillator and fitted a mask over Scully's nose and mouth. He continued to ventilate as Connie prepared to shock her heart.


Mulder watched, numb. Scully's body jumped against the pavement as the electricity went through her.


Her body jumped again.

"Charging. Clear!"

Her body jumped for a third time. This time the movement was accompanied by the reassuring beep...beep of the monitor. Tim left for the rig again, this time returning with a stretcher. They lifted Scully bodily to the stretcher and began rolling her to the waiting ambulance.

"Dad?" Connie pointed questioningly to Mulder. He nodded silently in response. "We only have room for one more. You and your babies can come along. The other guy's going to have to meet us there." When Mulder failed to move immediately, she hollered: "Let's go!"

Skinner watched as everyone loaded into the ambulance and it sped off in the direction of the hospital.

Title: And They Lived Happily Ever After? - A Favor for Scully IX
Author: Scarlet Scully
Disclaimer: I don't own the x-files. If I did, DD would definitely have a full season and there would never be repeats in the summer. It would be new shows all year round. I guess if that were the case there wouldn't be much time for fanfic and then where would we be? That's why they pay CC the big bucks. I do have to thank CC - now I don't have to explain how my Scully got pregnant in the first place. I had some theories, but no one asked and I'll let CC do all the 'splainin'. Seriously, I'm not making any money off this, so please don't sue me. I'm just doing it for my own sanity - to see this baby put to rest.
Rating: PG - 13
Category: SRA
Keywords: MS married, babyfic
Spoilers: none
Archive: Xemplary - yes, gossamer - no, I'll send it myself, all others - yes, but please let me know and keep my name and addy attached.

Summary: They're here! But will Scully get to see her children? Will Mulder end up a single father? I'm not going to tell you now - you'll just have to read to find out.

Author's Notes: This is the end. There, I've said it and therefore it must be true. I don't have much to say, except that I hope this series has lived up to your expectations. Also, if you've seen this posted under another name, don't worry: I am she. I had a very tumultuous year resulting in, among other things, a new email address. Since I had to revise the stories to accommodate the new addy, I decided to throw in a pseudonym as well. If you are archiving my story, please use this version and the revised, earlier parts on your website. Well, that takes care of the administrative stuff. This really has been a challenge to complete and thanks to everyone who has been patiently encouraging me to continue. Enjoy!

Shenandoah Memorial Hospital
Woodstock, VA
April 23, 1997
10:05 AM

Mulder emerged from the staff locker room and braced himself for the phone call he had been avoiding all morning. He made his way through the hospital to the waiting room where he had spied a public phone earlier. His progress through the room was arrested by a woman in her mid-forties, her face blotchy with tears, her hair unkempt.

"Excuse me doctor, but can you please tell me how my husband is? He went into surgery over 2 hours ago and I haven't heard a thing. Please, I just want to know if he's still okay..."

"Ma'am, I'm sorry but I'm not a doctor."

The woman interrupted Mulder: "Can you find out anyway, please?"

Mulder truly sympathized with the woman. He had spent 4 hours in the same room before he heard any word of Scully's condition. But, as much as he sympathized, he was too wrapped up in his own problems to help her any. "I don't work here. They just gave me these," he paused indicated the hospital garb he was currently clothed in, "because I had my wife's blood all over my clothes."

His statement was harsh, but achieved the desired effect. The woman stammered something unintelligible and left Mulder to the task at hand: a phone call he had dreaded his entire life. (Well, maybe not my entire life, but ever since I became acquainted with one Dana Scully.) He picked up the phone and dialed the number from memory.

Maggie Scully answered after the second ring.

"Maggie?" He took a deep, steadying breath. "It's Fox."

"What's the matter, Fox?"

"Sit down." He paused, cringing in the silence between them on the line. "I'm at the hospital. Scully had the twins this morning and there was a complication." Mulder blurted it all out in a single breath.

"Oh my God, are they okay?"

"They're fine. But Scully..." His voice broke as tears threatened to overwhelm him.

"What about Dana, Fox? Is my little girl okay?"

He could hear the panic enter his mother-in-law's voice. "She lost a lot of blood... we weren't in a hospital when she had them and she was bleeding so much and I didn't know... I should've known it wasn't right, but she said... she said it was okay." Tears streamed down his face. (I promised myself I wouldn't cry.)

Mulder fought to regain his composure. He heard Maggie take a deep breath on the other line, followed by: "Tell me, Fox."

"She's unconscious now. She's hasn't been conscious since just after the babies were born. They stopped the bleeding, but..." He trailed off, taking several deep breaths, swallowing his tears, before finishing. "The doctor's aren't optimistic. They say that the next 24 hours are crucial."

"I'm coming right now. Where are you?"

"We're in Woodstock, at the Shenandoah Memorial Hospital."

"Woodstock? What are you doing there?"

"It's a long story." Mulder paused, thinking to himself: (A long story where I put the lives of your daughter and grandchildren at risk.) He continued, banishing the thought for the time being. "And Maggie, I know you have far to drive, but...I don't have anything here for Scully or the babies or myself."

"It's okay Fox. I'll stop by your place on my way there and pick up a few things for everyone."

"Thanks Maggie." After hanging up, Mulder scrubbed at his face with his hands, trying to erase the evidence of his tears, again. Afterwards, he stared at his hands. He could still detect a slight reddish tinge to his coloring. He couldn't fully get the blood - Scully's blood -- off his hands. (Oh God, Scully. Your blood is on my hands, so many more ways than that. How could I have let this happen? How could I have done this to you?)

Mulder returned to the glass partition separating him from Scully's bed in the ICU. The nurse who had ordered him (after asking nicely about 15 times) to change his clothes was still there checking on her. What she was checking for so long, he really didn't know, and to be completely truthful, he really didn't care. All he wanted was for his Scully to open her eyes and smile at him. He wanted to smile and tell her that their prayers had come true. That for all these months, they've been praying for 2 healthy children and that's exactly what they got.

(Scully, don't make that bargain. Don't trade your life for theirs. That's not the way it's supposed to work. You're not supposed to have to choose. We should be able to have both.)

Skinner approached the silent man and laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "I'm sure she's going to be all right."

"How can you be so sure?" His voice dripped with anger and hate.

"I... I..." Skinner floundered for a response.

"That's what I thought." He spun and faced the man. "You better hope she gets better. You and the rest of the bureaucratic asses that put her here."

Mulder grabbed the man by the collar and shoved him against the opposite wall. "If she doesn't..." His voice faltered with emotion. "If..." He couldn't speak the words that completed the statement. "I will kill you where you stand. Then I will tell every man, woman and child that I see how you and the FBI killed her the same as if you put a bullet in her head. You put her here because you were too busy protecting your own ass. I won't ever forgive you for that."

Mulder released the man and returned to the glass partition, ignoring the gaping stares of the small crowd that had gathered during the short altercation. Had Skinner not known of Mulder's tendency to take on guilt for everything that goes wrong in his life, he might have reminded the man of his own role in Scully's current situation. Instead, he recognized his outburst for what it truly was: the venting of pent up anger, helping to keep him sane, and shrugged it off.

"I need to go back to the Bureau. Will you let me know if there's any change?"

Mulder gave no response, continuing to pace outside the door, waiting for the nurse to finish so he could re-enter.

Shenandoah Memorial Hospital
Intensive Care Unit
April 23, 1997
2:04 PM

Maggie Scully found her way through the hospital until she reached the ICU. She stared through the glass at her daughter. This was a place she had been far too frequently in the young woman's life. By rights, she should never be here at all. Her daughter, many (hopefully) years from now, might trade places with her, but that was to be expected. That was the natural course of life. But this, this was wrong.

She tapped on the glass, pulling Mulder's attention from her daughter's face. He was holding Dana's hand between both of his and up to his mouth. His lips moved, caressing her hand slightly, as he spoke unheard words to her. After a moment, he released her hand and left her side, exiting the room to where Maggie waited.

"I don't have anything new to tell you." Mulder waved helplessly to the air behind him. "They say she lost a lot of blood. But that's all they say. I don't get it. I mean, she's getting blood now - so it's not lost anymore. She should wake up, right?"

Maggie nodded silently. Her eyes remained fixed on her little girl. (Not so little anymore,) she chided.

"You can go in. I'll wait for you." Maggie pulled herself away from the scene, back to the man before her. She raised an eyebrow, questioningly.

"It's only one at a time right now."

Maggie nodded and turned to enter. She stopped and turned back to Mulder: "I was so worried that I forgot to ask." When he didn't answer, she continued: "What were they?"

Mulder smiled a little, the first time in hours (it felt like days). "Girls. Two girls."

Shenandoah Memorial Hospital
April 24, 1997
8:37 AM

Maggie Scully placed a gentle hand on the shoulder of the sleeping Fox Mulder. He stirred slightly, pulling Scully's hand closer to his lips. Maggie shook his shoulder and he woke fully this time.

"I must've fallen asleep," Mulder muttered, wiping the sleep from his eyes.

"I think you probably needed it. Here," she said and held a key out to him. "I have a room at the hotel just around the corner. Why don't you go there, get some sleep, a shower and bring us back some lunch. I'll stay here with Dana."

"No, I'm okay. I'm just going down to the cafeteria to get some coffee. Do you want anything?"

"No thanks, Fox." She watched his slumped frame as it headed down the hallway. She hadn't bothered to ask if there had been any change in Dana's condition. She had spoken to a nurse before waking him. There hadn't been. (At least she hasn't deteriorated.) Although she tried to look on the bright side, Maggie knew that it wasn't good that her daughter had also not improved over night.

Maggie had barely spent a half hour with her daughter when her one-sided conversation was interrupted by the entrance of a doctor and nurse. The nurse approached Maggie while the doctor busied himself with Dana's chart.

"Hi, you're Dana's mom, right?"

"Yes, I'm Maggie." She pulled her eyes from her daughter to the woman standing before her. Her strawberry blonde hair was pulled back into a tight bun and the color reminded her of Dana's hair when she was younger.

"Hi Maggie. My name is Sarah. We're going to be moving your daughter to the Progressive Care Unit, on the fourth floor. Her condition has stabilized enough so that we can take her out of the ICU."

Maggie warmed slightly to the woman. Maybe it was that she had just given her the closest thing to good news that she's heard in the last 24 hours, or maybe it was just something about the tone of her voice. "Do you know which room? I'll go tell my son-in- law."

"I was hoping you would. I'd fear for the life of the first person he sees after coming up here and finding his wife's bed empty."

Maggie smiled at the woman's words, knowing full well the truth they held.

"She'll be moving to room 412." Sarah continued. "It's going to take about a half hour to get Dana all settled in. Maybe you and your son-in-law could visit with your grandchildren in the meantime." Her voice dropped to a whisper: "The nurses down there tell me that he's only been to see them once since they came in."

Maggie nodded her head in understanding. She had been meaning to speak to Fox about that herself. She returned to Dana's side and placed a kiss on her forehead. "Bye Sweetie. I'll see you in a bit."

Maggie was happy to find her son-in-law fueling up with caffeine *and* something with a little sustenance as well. As she approached his table, he put the sandwich down, a slightly accusatory look on his face.

"I thought you were going to stay with Scully?"

Maggie tried not to get upset with his harsh tone. (As if I couldn't wait half an hour without stopping to visit the cafeteria!) She brushed the thought aside. "I was...but they've decided to move her to the PCU," she explained. "They said it will take about a half hour, so I came down here to let you know."

Mulder hung his head in shame. "I'm sorry I snapped at you Maggie. It's just that if...I mean *when* Scully wakes up, I don't want her to be alone."

"I know you don't, Fox, and I don't either." Mulder nodded his head and picked his sandwich up again. Maggie bit her lip with indecision. Finally, she decided that this was her best opportunity to speak her mind. After all, if she didn't now, she would probably have to do it at Dana's bedside and she certainly didn't want that.

"Fox..." He looked up at her. Maggie hesitated, unsure how to proceed. "Fox..." She paused again. She noticed he was about to speak and before he could, she blurted out: "They don't have any names yet, Fox."

Mulder's eyes turned back to the table between them.

Maggie, more confident now that the conversation had started, continued: "I went to see my grandchildren and all it says on their bassinets is 'Baby Girl Mulder'. It says the same thing for both girls. And the nurses say you've barely been to see them. They're your little girls, Fox. They're Dana's little girls. How can you leave them nameless and all alone?"

Tears filled Maggie's eyes and she noted Mulder brushing quickly at his own. Finally he spoke, so quietly she could barely hear him over the noise of the cafeteria: "We hadn't chosen yet. We hadn't decided."

"Okay Fox, so it won't be easy. But you must have some idea?" He nodded silently in response. "Good. So you'll pick out names and go and hold your little girls and whisper their names to them and tell them that they're not alone." She paused, pulling her emotions in line. "I know you don't want Dana to wake up alone. But I know she won't care if the reason she's alone is because you're with her children. In fact, I think she'll be happy because she'll know that even though she couldn't be there for her girls, you were there for them instead. You owe that peace of mind to her."

Shenandoah Memorial Hospital
Progressive Care Unit
11:01 PM

Nurse Sarah saw Mulder heading toward her station and braced herself. (I thought that when we moved her up to PCU I'd seen the last of him, but then I had to go and agree to this damn double shift and, wouldn't you know, it's in PCU. I wonder what he wants to bitch about now?)

"Hi, um..." Mulder stifled a yawn. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name, but didn't you work on the other floor?"

"Yeah, it's Sarah," she answered, after yawning herself. "Sorry, they're contagious you know."

"Yeah, but I should be saying sorry; I yawned first."

"True," she smiled. "So, what can I do for you, Mr. Mulder?" (Geez, I sound like a waitress or something.)

"Well, I don't know what the policy is, but..." he hesitated. "If they agree in the nursery, can I bring my girls up here with me and their mom?"

Sarah smiled genuinely this time. "I don't see why not. In fact, why don't I come down with you. It might help persuade them and when they agree, I can help you bring them up."

"Sounds good to me."

Mulder waited while Nurse Sarah found her partner and let her know where she was going. Together they headed to the elevator and waited for it to arrive on their floor.

"By the way, Sarah, I never did get a chance to thank you for lending me those scrubs."

"Anytime, Mr. Mulder. You're actually one of the few that have given them back."

Shenandoah Memorial Hospital
PCU Room 412
1:47 AM

Mulder closed the door to Scully's room softly. Having determined that the hallway was quiet, and no one would be back for quite some time, he put his plan into action.

Scully was lying on her side, or rather, she had been placed on her side by the last nurse to visit. Mulder had placed the twins' bassinets in front of her, hoping that some kind of mother instinct would kick in and help her to open her eyes. It hadn't and she hadn't.

He gently picked up one of his daughters, still a little awkward with the tiny shape in his arms. Carefully, he laid the baby on the bed. She only stirred slightly as he shifted her even closer to her mother. Mulder climbed in on the other side of the bed, and taking Scully's hand in his, gently wrapped their arms around their child.

He propped himself up on his elbow and whispered in Scully's ear: "Scully, I want you to meet your daughter."

Mulder's heart warmed just to feel the familiar warmth of his wife's body next to his, the scent of her skin as he whispered in her ear. He longed for her to turn and smile at him. He knew she wouldn't though, and continued.

"I don't know if she is the older of the two. I have to confess I don't know who was born first. I couldn't tell them apart at the time, or at least I hadn't tried. Don't worry though. We don't have years of making them wear different clothes so we know who is who. I can tell them apart just fine now.

"This little girl beside you is Autumn. Yes, Scully, I gave in to one of the names you had chosen and named our daughter Autumn, Autumn Hannah. I hadn't liked it when you first said it, but as soon as I saw her, I knew it had to be her name. She has red hair, well, not really hair, more like fuzz. To be honest, her head kinda looks like a ripe peach. But she's beautiful. And her red hair reminded me of the colors of fall and well, I guess you can figure out the rest.

"I like to think of Autumn as the big sister: she weighs 5 pounds and 13 ounces. The doctors tell me that's actually really good for a twin who was born early. She'll still have to stay until her weight gets up. So, I'm letting you know now: you had better be ready to go home when these girls are. I'm not taking care of twin girls by myself." Mulder's voice died down, losing the upbeat tone he had maintained earlier.

He took a deep breath. "Autumn, this is your mother. I think you're going to look just like her even though your grandmother insists that your hair is darker than hers was when she was young. You'll be very blessed to grow up like your mother. Remember that. And don't try to change your red hair when you get older, like so many redheads seem to do. I'll tell you now, and forever, that I love red hair, I love your mother's red hair and you were named for it. Don't go trying to change that, okay?

"Listen to me, Scully. I'm already one of those fathers trying to force his opinions on his children. Can you imagine how bad I'm going to be when they get older and can actually speak? Don't let your daughters have to deal with me alone, Scully.

"And Autumn, for the record, your mother's name is Dana, but she will always be my Scully. And no, that's not normal for a husband to call his wife by her maiden name, but eventually you'll learn that we're not very normal or typical in any way."

Mulder pressed a kiss against the side of Scully's face. He lay silently, looking down at his wife and daughter. After a few minutes, he stirred. "Okay Scully, it's time you meet your other daughter."

He carefully shifted his family around, rearranging until he found himself just as he had been before: his wife's hand in his, their arms wrapped protectively around their daughter.

"Scully," he whispered. "This is Hayley. I thought about trying to name her with another name that began with "A" or another season, but then I realized that we aren't like that. Besides, I'm sure our children would grow up hating us, or should I say 'me', if we named them Autumn and Summer, born in the spring.

"I wanted to make sure that Hayley's name was as special as Autumn's. So I named her Hayley Jewel. I don't think we had the name 'Jewel' in the book, I don't have it here, but I will always think of that woman with the lovely voice who helped us to open up to each other in San Francisco. So I named our second daughter, the one I think of as the 'little sister', after her.

"Hayley has light hair, but Maggie says it might not stay that light. For now, to me, she is a blonde. And she weighs 5 pounds and 1 ounce. She's the little one. She'll always be the little one to me. She'll probably grow to be 6 inches taller than Autumn and I'll still be calling her 'the little one'.

"Scully, the nurses here are really hoping you wake up soon. They're more than a little tired of changing our children's diapers. I tried to help, once. Poor Hayley. Finally, one nurse stopped laughing long enough to save her from my complete lack of diapering skills. Not that I think dirty diapers are an incentive to wake up. I promise, if you take the time to teach me the right way, and I know you can, I'll change every single one of their diapers. All you have to do is open your eyes.

"Scully, you did it. Our children are healthy, tiny but healthy. You don't have to worry about them. You don't have to make any more deals for them. They are perfect. But us, we're worried about you. We don't want you to leave us all alone. We need you. We love you."

A tear rolled down Mulder's face and landed on Scully's cheek. He kissed her where it landed. "I'm trying Scully," he whispered, moving his arm to pull her closer to him. "I'm trying so hard, but I'm so scared and I need you so much. Please Scully. I'm trying; I need you to try."

Nurse Sarah looked through the window in the door. The scene before her brought tears to her eyes. She whispered a quick prayer and moved on to the next room.

Shenandoah Memorial Hospital
April 25, 1997
2:46 PM

Maggie Scully jumped slightly as the cafeteria door crashed open, banging loudly against the interior wall. She raised her eyes at the sound only to see Fox Mulder racing into the room. His voice interrupted the questions formed on her lips.

"She's awake! She's awake, Mom!"

Maggie felt a smile of her own match the grin on her son-in-law's face. Before she could articulate any further response, he grasped her hand and pulled her upright.

"Come with me. We're going to get the girls. She wants to see you and our girls."

Maggie couldn't help but laugh at Mulder's antics. She had never seen him so giddy. He was acting like any of her children had whenever they were excited. The only difference was they were still children then. Fox Mulder was a grown man, and a father. She shook her head, still smiling, and followed him as he raced down the hall.

Eventually, they burst into room 412. Scully, propped up slightly with pillows, smiled a weary smile at their entrance. "Hi, mom."

"Oh Dana, sweetie!" Maggie exclaimed and rushed over to Dana's bedside. Fox's mood had been contagious. She threw her arms around her and pulled her close in a fierce hug. "I was so scared for you. I still don't know how you ended up way out here, but whatever it was, don't do it again."

"Okay, mom." Dana returned her mother's embrace as well as she could.

"Now," Maggie said as she released her daughter, "I'm flattered that Fox came to get me, but I suspect there's someone else you'd prefer to see."

Mulder moved to the opposite side of Scully's bed, carefully carrying a cotton pink bundle.

"Scully, do you want to hold her...I mean, do you think you can?"

"Oh Mulder, I need to." Her eyes turned a little watery as she anticipated the moment she had been waiting for for so many months now.

Mulder lowered the guardrail and sat on the edge of her bed. He handed his sleeping daughter over to Scully's waiting arms. His hand lingered under her elbow, lending strength to the arm supporting the infant's head.

"She's so beautiful, so tiny." Scully loosened the blanket slightly and found a tiny balled up fist. She gently opened the fist to reveal four tiny fingers and a perfect little thumb.

Mulder interrupted her silent examination. "She's perfect. I already checked."

Scully loosened the blanket further. She brought her lips to the baby's forehead and kissed her daughter. A tear escaped and Mulder used his free hand to wipe it from her cheek.

"I told you Scully, she's perfect. You did it. You gave us two perfect children." Mulder hesitated. "I... already named them. I wanted to wait for you but..."

Scully's blue eyes found his. "It's okay, Mulder. I wouldn't have wanted you to wait this long."

Mulder reached out and pulled the blanket back, revealing his daughter's scarlet locks. "She has red hair, so I named her..."

"...Autumn," Scully interrupted quietly.

He smiled, his heart filled with love again. "Autumn Hannah," he completed. "And your mother is holding Hayley, Hayley..."

"...Jewel," she completed, smiling. "They're beautiful names Mulder. And, before I get too tired, I'd like to meet Hayley."

As Mulder bent closer to take Autumn from her arms, she whispered in his ear: "Thank you Mulder. Thank you for getting us here. I couldn't have made it without you."

He answered only with a gentle kiss to her waiting lips.

The end.

Really, this is the end. I feel like I'm letting go of an old friend. I don't know what will keep me company during these late nights now.

Please send any comments, good or bad, to scarlet.scully@home.com.

Thank you for sticking with me to the end.

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