Title: Found Faith and Lost Time
Author:  ML
Email: msnsc21@aol.com
Feedback:  Is very much appreciated!
Distribution:  Ephemeral and Gossamer, yes; if you've archived me before, yes; if not, please drop me a line so I can come visit, and keep my name and email attached.  Thanks.
Spoilers:  DeadAlive
Rating:  PG-13
Classification: V, Angst, Mulder/Scully Romance
Keywords:  MSR, Mulder POV
Summary:  A lot of talk about abductions and pregnancy.  Skinner says something he shouldn't, and Mulder says something he should.

Disclaimer:  The characters described in this story do not belong to me   They are the property of Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen, and Fox Broadcasting.  I mean no infringement, and I am making no profit from this.

For Kimberly.  Author's notes at end.


I'm floating, in a dream I never want to leave.  I'm in Scully's arms, she is in mine, and we are sharing kiss after kiss.  Deeply complex, soul-satisfying kisses.  My favorite way to communicate with Scully.  I suspect that she likes it, too, from her responses to me.  Is this a dream or a memory?   Doesn't matter; if it's a dream, I'll make damn sure it becomes reality at the first opportunity.  And if it's a memory, I look forward to making new ones.

When I open my eyes, the first thing I see is the worried face of AD Skinner

"Good afternoon, Walter," I say raspily.  "Or is it evening?"  I have no sense of time in this room.  I have no outside windows to see if it's raining, snowing, or if the invasion has begun.  But I'm pretty happy to be living in the now, whenever Now is.  I'm pretty happy to be living, period

Skinner frowns and purses his lips as if about to rebuke my familiar form of address, then seems to remember that I am An Invalid, and that Allowances Must Be Made.  I wonder fleetingly how long I can get away with that, and if it will work with Scully.  Which reminds me.

"Where's Scully?"  I ask Skinner, before he can say anything.

"She's gone home to clean up and get some things," he says.  "You do realize, Mulder, that she's been here around the clock for the past seventy-two hours?"

Since I've only been aware of my surroundings for the past twenty-four or so, I have to shake my head.  I'm not surprised.  It's not the first time Scully has kept vigil at my bedside.

Skinner can't seem to help himself; he's starting to lecture me the way he would if I were seated in front of him in his office.  "She shouldn't be doing this, you know.  Not in her condition."

"And what condition is that?" I interrupt him in mid-tirade.  All sorts of possibilities flicker through my mind, all the way up to a recurrence of cancer.  Not that.  Please God, anything but that.

Skinner has clammed up again, at least momentarily.  His face is incredulous  This time, he's not bothering to hide his anger.  I kind of like that I can piss off Skinner while lying flat on my back, newly returned from the dead   I guess I haven't lost my edge.  

Skinner finally grits out,  "Her pregnancy, you idiot."

A wave of disbelief, and then comprehension, washes over me.  When I first opened my eyes the day before, Scully was sitting at my bedside, her hand over mine.  I couldn't take my eyes away from her tear-ravaged face.  I couldn't move much, and in fact still can't move much, but I was satisfied just to see what I could of her.  We didn't speak much, didn't really have to.  Eventually, I drifted off to sleep again, Scully's head tucked under my chin, her hand still grasping mine.  

I woke up in the night to find her still sleeping in the same position.  I lay listening to her soft breathing and remembering the last look I had of her face before Skinner and I left for Oregon.  

She'd kept her brave face on for me as I packed my bag and returned with her to FBI headquarters to pick Skinner up.  She finally let her guard down for the few precious minutes we had before leaving.  Skinner had ushered everyone out of his office on some pretext, leaving just Scully and me.  As I bent to kiss her one last time, her face crumpled and she buried her head against my shoulder.  "I can't do this, Mulder," she sobbed.  "I can't be brave any more."

"Yes, you can," I said softly to her.  "You have to be."  I lifted her chin up with my forefinger and kissed her softly.  "I'll be brave for you, if you'll be brave for me."  She smiled a little at that, a smile that threatened to dissolve into tears again.  She let me wipe them away, and lift her face up for one last kiss.  When I released her, she looked at me steadily, her eyes still swimming, but with renewed resolve in the set of her chin and the line of her mouth.

I carried that image of her face with me all the way to Oregon, and I'm pretty sure that it was my last conscious thought before we were taken into the ship.

"Don't tell me you didn't know," Skinner is saying.

I shake my head.  "She didn't tell me.  She left the room while I was asleep.  This isn't a joke, right?  Scully really *is* pregnant, isn't she?"  I don't want to hope until he confirms it.

Reluctantly, Skinner nods his head.  "She's not going to be very happy when she finds out I spilled the beans," he adds morosely.

"I might have figured it out on my own," I suggest.  I feel a ridiculous grin forming on my face.  Scully's pregnant.  I'm sure of the truth of it now.   Her dizzy spells during our trip to Oregon, her lack of appetite and feelings of nausea.  I know the thought had crossed my mind at the time, but I hadn't wanted to even suggest it, after all we'd been through on that very subject   When I got back from Oregon, I thought at the time, I'd make sure Scully went to the doctor and we'd find out together.

So much for the best laid plans.

"Who else knows?"  I ask.

"Pretty much anyone who's seen her lately," Skinner says.  "She's at about six months."

Another shock. "And the hits just keep on comin'," I murmur.  "At least I don't have to ask you how long I've been gone."

Skinner nods his head in agreement, looking relieved.  He looks like he'd really like to leave now, and I am surprised that he doesn't make an excuse and go.  He looks at his watch, and shuffles his feet.

"Someplace to go, Sir?"  I am feeling a little sorry for him now, and try to help him along if he wants to go.  I can feel his awkwardness.

"I promised Scully I'd stay until she got back," he explains.  "It's the only way I could get her to go, by promising you wouldn't be left alone."

I warm to him a little more.  It's not his style, to stick around and make nice with the invalid.  In the past, he would come in, make some gruff comment, usually having to do with punishing me for making him worry, and then beat a hasty retreat.  I know this is very hard for him.  From something Scully said the night before, he shouldered a lot of the guilt for my disappearance.  And, that he was also largely responsible for my reappearance among the living.

"Scully tells me I have you to thank for my revival," I say.  This might be hard for him to hear, too, but I'm going to thank him anyway.  

He gets a pained look on his face again.  "I don't deserve your thanks,"  he says.  "If you knew the truth, you'd want to kick my butt."

I've always known Skinner to be stoic.  I also know that he's done a lot more for me, and for Scully, than he's ever let on.  He might as well make up his mind that I'm grateful, and I intend to let him know that.  "I think you're pretty safe for the moment," I say.  "I couldn't even kick Frohike's butt right now."

"Could you just drop it, Mulder?"  He's almost pleading with me, and I see something like desperation in his eyes.  He really doesn't want to be thanked, he very obviously wants me to leave it alone.

I file his reaction away to think about when I've got a little more strength

The distraction that both Skinner and I have been hoping for, though for different reasons, chooses to make her entrance at this perfect moment.   She's carrying a cardboard box in front of her, perhaps hoping to obscure her burgeoning belly for a few moments longer.

I give her a big smile as she catches my eye.  "Hi, Mom," I greet her

She looks a little crestfallen.  "You KNOW?  Did you know last night?"  she asks me.

Skinner answers first.  "I let it slip.  I thought he already knew," he explains.  "I'm sorry, Dana."  He takes the box out of her hands

He's calling her "Dana"?  I'm no longer sorry I called him Walter.

Scully approaches the bed and reaches for my hand, then leans down and kisses me on the mouth, right in front of Skinner.  I don't feel so bad about him calling her Dana now.

"I'm sorry I took so long," she says to both of us.  "I hoped to get back before Mulder woke up, but traffic was bad."

"It's okay," Skinner and I say almost simultaneously.  Skinner starts edging for the door, and Scully walks out with him and talks to him in the hall for a minute.

When she comes back in, her question is unexpected.  "What did you say to get Skinner so upset?"

I upset Skinner?  He's the one who told me about my impending fatherhood.   All I did was try to thank him.  I try to explain this to Scully.

She nods in understanding.  "He doesn't want to talk about it.  There's something more there.  He'll tell us when he's ready to, I guess."

I'm ready to change the subject.  "Get over here, Scully," I say in my best come-hither voice, rusty though it is from disuse.

She complies readily, coming to stand by the bed again.  She picks up the control button and adjusts the bed so I'm closer to a sitting position.  Then she pulls the chair over as close as she can get it.  I take her hand again, and rub my thumb over her palm.  It's about as much movement as I can muster so far without breaking a sweat.

"Miss me?"  I ask her.  It's my new joke; they were  practically the first words out of my mouth yesterday.

She smiles and says, "I did."  I know she means not just while she was gone from the hospital.

We sit in companionable silence for a while.  I look at Scully; she looks back.  I have a million questions, but I don't know where to start.  Some of the answers I'm pretty sure I know; others, I'm not in a big hurry to get the answers to.  I decide to start small.

"Hey Scully, what's it like outside?  What time of year is it?"  

She looks a little startled at this, but answers readily.  "It's almost spring, Mulder.  The cherry blossoms on the Mall are just starting to show color."

"What time is it?  What day is it?"

"It's eleven o'clock in the morning, a Tuesday," she recites dutifully.  "The sun is out, though they're predicting showers later in the day."

I feel a little more oriented now.  I start to warm up to bigger questions   "What's in the box, Scully?"  I ask her.

She looks at me strangely, as if she expected an entirely different question  I think I know what she's waiting for; I've yet to ask anything about the baby. Nonetheless, she gets up and rummages through the box.

"I brought you some things from your place," she says a little shyly, which I find endearing.  She confesses,  "I stay there sometimes, just to make sure everything's okay."  That makes me both happy and sad.  Scully in my bed, but without me.  She holds up some articles of clothing.  I know that these are some of her favorites.  My plaid pajama bottoms and a couple of worn T-shirts.  Some socks and underwear.  And a bra.  A bra?

"I found this in your underwear drawer, Mulder," she explains, dangling it in front of me tantalizingly.  It's a particularly pretty bra, black, low cut, and covered with lace.  I remember it very well.

"It's yours, Scully," I tell her.

"I know it's mine, Mulder, but how did it get there?"

I remember very well how it got there.  I put it there, but I don't think I'll tell her that.  Or the circumstances under which it got there, either

"You must have left it there by accident,"  I offer.  "Or maybe it just got mixed up with my laundry."

She seems to accept this, and I breathe an inward sigh of relief.  I'm glad she didn't find the matching garter belt.

"What else you got in there, Scully?"  I tease her.  "A jock strap?  Some videos?"

"Not videos, Mulder, they're at home."  I raise my eyebrows at her suggestively.  "Not what you'd think, though I think you'll enjoy seeing them.  I have some stills here to show you."  Scully pulls a small photo album out of the box and brings it over.

The photos are on flimsy paper, and in tones of gray, but I know immediately what they are.

"I have one for every month you were gone, Mulder," she says.  "I didn't want you to miss anything."

"Boy or girl, Scully?"  I ask softly.  

"Yes."  She smiles her enigmatic smile.

"Don't you know?"  I am surprised.  I'm sure she ran every test known to man, and probably developed some new ones, making sure this baby is okay.

"I didn't want to know until you came back, Mulder.  I wanted us to find out together."

I can't say anything.  I simply put my hand over hers and look at her

"When did you find out you were pregnant?"

She clutches harder at my hand, and says in a low voice, "The day I found out you were missing."

I would laugh if it weren't so sad.  Fate, or God, or whoever, showed the usual exquisite timing it seems to be our privilege to experience.

I move my hand a little, turning it so that our hands are palm to palm.  I'd like to touch her, feel the reality of the baby, but I can't quite reach that far.  Scully anticipates this and stands again.  She places our hands together on her stomach, resting against the edge of the bed so that I can see as well as feel.  I close my eyes for a moment, overwhelmed.

Finally I say, "I hoped for this.  I suspected this, when you felt sick in Oregon that first time."

"You did?  Why didn't you say anything?"

"I didn't want to raise false hopes, Scully.  I didn't know if you were thinking the same thing or not.  I just kept thinking of you with Teresa Hoese's baby and that night, I started to hope it might be true."

"And even back in Washington, knowing you were going back to who knows what in Oregon, you didn't say anything."  She doesn't seem angry, only curious and maybe a little hurt.

"It just didn't seem right.  There was so much risk...you knew how much, just as I did," I explain earnestly.  I really need her to understand this  "I wrote you a letter, Scully.  On the way back there.  I was going to tell Skinner about it, and where to find it, in case...well, it happened, didn't it?"

"What letter, Mulder?  I never saw a letter.  Skinner didn't say anything."

"I didn't tell him.  It seemed too much like tempting fate.  But I left it someplace where I was sure you would find it, if you needed to."

Scully shakes her head.  "I never saw it, Mulder.  They searched your apartment thoroughly.  Your computer was even stolen.  But I never found a letter like that."

"It was in my overnight bag, Scully.  Did Skinner bring it back from Oregon?"

"Yes, he did," she whispers.  "It's in my closet right now.  I couldn't bring myself to go through it."  

This seems uncharacteristic of Scully, but I don't want to upset her by asking why she wouldn't search my luggage.  Instead, I reassure her.

"I bet it's still in there, then, Scully."  I stroke her cheek with my finger.  "It doesn't matter.  I know it pretty much by heart, anyway."  I continue to stroke her cheek gently as I close my eyes and remember.  I wrote it on the plane.  Skinner sat in the aisle seat across from me, avoiding conversation.  I hardly had to stop to think about what I was writing; the words just poured out of me, as though I had been talking face to face with Scully.  I start to speak softly.

"Scully,

Neither of us has been very good at expressing how we feel, but right now it seems very important to me that I put some things down on paper.  I hope you will never have to see this.  I guess I'm just figuratively crossing my fingers.  When I get back (when, Scully, not if), I will tell you in person what I am trying to say here.

If you are reading this, I probably didn't come back from Oregon.  I hadn't planned it that way; you have to believe me.  But I have this strong feeling that I am the one they want.  And I think that even if I didn't make this trip, I would be taken, and sooner rather than later.  

I don't know why.  Part of me wants to find out, and part of me wants to take you, and find a place to hide.  Leave everything behind.  But that's not me, and it's not you, either.  We have always had the strength of each other's beliefs.  I asked you to be brave me for me, Scully.  I still need you to be brave.

I need to you believe in me now, Scully.  Don't give up hope.  I will find a way back to you, if there's any way to do it.

I never told you what it was like for me when you were taken, and I was left behind.  It haunts me now.  If I'd loved you then as I do now, I would never have survived.  I almost didn't, anyway.  I think somehow that even then I loved you, but could not admit it, even to myself.

You're stronger than I am, Scully.  And if what I suspect is true, you have more reason to survive than I did.  Keep yourself safe.  Trust Skinner; he will come through for you.  I can't count the number of times he's come through for me when I thought all hope was gone.

And most important of all, never doubt that I love you.  No matter where I am, I love you still.  You truly are my touchstone, my reason.

I love you Scully.  Never forget that.

Mulder."

When I open my eyes again, I can see the tears streaking silently down Scully's cheeks.  I felt them against my finger almost as soon as I started reciting the letter.

"I'm so sorry," she says with a sob.  Now that the dam has burst, so to speak, the words and the tears come flooding out.  "I should have known  I should have looked for it, I should have found it.  But I...but I just kept thinking, you're alive, and I have no business going through your things, violating your privacy.  That you had every intention of returning, and I was just keeping this for you.  I started to open it once but I just couldn't do it.  And then, when we all thought you were dead...it didn't matter any more, but I kept holding on to it.  Just like it was still waiting for you to return.  As long as I had it, you weren't really gone.  You were coming back.  And you did, you're here."  She covers her face with her hands and sob after sob breaks from her.

"Hey, Scully."  I say softly over and over again.  "Hey, it's okay  Finding the letter wouldn't have changed anything.  You know how I feel, don't you?   You knew then, too.  You knew all along.  I wrote that letter for me as much as for you.  I couldn't say it to your face, so I wrote it down and imagined your face as I told you.  You knew.  You knew anyway, didn't you?"  I can just reach the top of her head with my fingertips and I stroke her hair gently.

At last she calms herself, wiping her eyes with her fingers and smiling a shaky smile.  "I'm sorry," she says again.  She hates to cry in front of me, but as much as I hate to see her upset, I always feel as though I've been given a gift when she does.

"There's nothing to be sorry for," I reassure her again.

She takes my hand in hers again and presses her lips against the knuckles.   "Thank you," she says.

"For what?"

"For coming back.  For writing the letter.  Mulder, I tried to have faith-"

"You did,"  I tell her.  "You believed, you held on.  You didn't need a letter from me to do that."

Her face starts to crumple again.  "If only ** I could have...I should have done more."

"Scully, I'm sure you did everything you could.  How could you have done more?  Where could you have looked?"

She shook her bent head.

I took a deep breath.  "Scully, I know what you went through.  I went through the same thing when you were missing.  I didn't know where to look, who to turn to.  Everything seemed to be a dead end.  I have never felt so helpless.  And then, when it appeared that all hope was gone, you were returned  And I almost lost you again."

I think back to those awful days, to Mrs. Scully's decision to take her off life support, my impotent rage, my unsuccessful attempts to get Smoking Man to tell me something, anything, that would help me to avenge Scully.  The long vigil by her bedside, the night I thought would be our last together.   And finally, the phone call that ended the nightmare and let me live again

I am exhausted by the time I finish telling Scully about it.  But I add, "Scully, you did more than I ever could.  You figured out how to save me, you and Skinner.  Otherwise, I might be out there somewhere, trying to colonize the planet.  I'm the one who should be thanking you, for giving me back my life."

I lean back against my pillows, drained.

I feel her lips on mine, pressing soft, healing kisses.  She moves along my scarred cheek and up to my temple, whispering, "Maybe we're even, then."

"Never, Scully.  I owe you so much, I'm never gonna pay off the debt.  But I'll spend the rest of my life trying."  I lift my head a little and manage to kiss her back.  "Will you take payment in kind?"

At last I get a little smile out of her.  "Just remember the interest rates are higher that way."

"Not to mention the penalties," I say in the same vein, and feel her fingers on my lips, preventing me from saying just what the penalties might be for

"Don't let your mouth write checks your body can't cash, Mulder," she says right back.  And she actually laughs.

In this way, in many little ways, we begin to heal each other.

It's nice to know, with all I've lost, I still have my sense of humor.  And Scully.  I still have Scully.

I give a mighty yawn.  "Sorry, Scully," I say.  "I'll try to come up with a clever reply after my nap."

"I'll be right here, Mulder," she promises me.  She lays her head against the back of her chair and keeps hold of my hand.  I'm not sure whose eyes close first, but we are looking at each other as we drift off.

And Scully is still there, in my dreams.

end.



Author's notes:  This is a challenge fic from the IWTB list.  Elements are:
-Mulder's reaction to Scully's pregnancy
-Cherry blossoms
-A long open mouthed deep kiss
-Lost undergarments
-Photo albums
-A lost letter found

Thanks for reading! Thanks for feedback, too, if you're so inclined:  
msnsc21@aol.com

 

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