Title: Hell or High Water
Author: Jenna

Summary: I was challenged to write a sequel to my first story "The Blanket". This is the result.

So if it's no good--Harriet, it's your fault. ;)


1.

Dana Scully unlocked her apartment door for the first time in five months and stepped inside. It was just like she'd left it--a little colder, a little dustier, but otherwise the same. Books and furniture, dishes and CDs, all the same. She thought about checking for bugs, but decided against it. If anyone wanted to listen to her, let them listen, she wasn't going to say anything terribly interesting.

She carried her suitcase and garment bag into her bedroom and pulled back the sheets on the bed to air it out. She took out a few blouses that wrinkled easily and hung them on the hangers in her closet. For a moment she looked through the clothes that hung there, thinking about the last time she'd worn them. One dress in particular, at the back of the closet, made her smile--she'd worn it on her last date with Mulder. The first and last date, really: the National symphony, a French restaurant, and then sitting on his bed she told him she had to leave for a while. He cried, his body draped over her lap, and she held him and kissed the back of his neck and told him it was for the best, she still loved him, she'd always love him, she just had to leave for a while. She'd be back before he even missed her. He looked up at her and said, "I miss you already." She made love to him then, slowly and gently, kissing his tears away. In the morning she left, without waking him up to say goodbye, and the cabdriver had eyed her with interest, because she was still wearing an evening gown and it was six a.m.

Someday she'd wear this dress again. With Mulder. Everything she'd done for the past five months was for Mulder. And it was time to tell him so.

She lifted her phone. A dial tone, good. She dialed the numbers she'd wanted to call a thousand times over the past five months, and waited patiently through the rings. Three. Four. Five. Answering machine.

"Hi, you've reached Fox Mulder, leave a message please."

"Mulder, it's me. I'm back in Bethesda, at my place. Call me when you get in, will you? Bye."

She was about the hang up when she heard someone pick up the phone, drop it, curse, then say hurriedly into the mouthpiece, "Scully, I'm here, don't hang up."

"Mulder, you're there. Hi."

"Hi. So. How was Florida?"

"Hot and humid, but Charlie's family was great."

"Uh-huh." For a moment neither of them said a word. Then he said quietly, "You left without saying goodbye."

"I thought it might be easier for us that way."

"You just took off, Scully."

"I know. I told you it was for the best."

"The best what, Scully? The best way to leave me?"

"Yes--but not the way you think, Mulder. You'll understand tomorrow, I promise."

"Can I come see you? I can be there in twenty minutes."

"No, don't come yet. I've got to unpack still, and I want to go to bed early. We've got a big day tomorrow."

"You don't have to come."

"Hell or high water couldn't keep me away, Mulder. I need to be there. You need me there."

He was silent for a moment. "Yeah. I've missed you."

"I've missed you too."

"Are you okay? Really okay?"

"Better than okay, Mulder. I'm wonderful."

He said, his voice breaking, "Scully, I need to see you, please don't make me wait until tomorrow, it's been five months--"

"Shh, shh. I promise that tomorrow will be soon enough. And you accomplished a lot without me, may I remind you."

"Only because I had some lucky breaks. And I thought the sooner I did this the sooner you'd come back to me."

"Well, you were right. Here I am."

"You mean, there you are."

"Yeah, I suppose so. Look, after tomorrow I promise everything will make sense," she added with a smile, "And you'll have more of me than you know what to do with."

"I can think of a few things I'd like to do to you," he said in his bedroom voice, and she laughed. She knew it was always the opposite of his intention, but she couldn't help it, the sexier he tried to sound the funnier she found him.

"I can think of a few things I'd like to do too, but don't get any ideas just yet. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Ten a.m."

"I know."

"Hey, Scully?"

"Yes, Mulder?"

"I love you."

"I know. I love you too, Mulder." She hung up the phone.

Her apartment was dark, lit only by the streetlights outside. She checked the locks on the windows and doors, turned on the furnance, put on her pajamas and got carefully into bed. Her mother had wanted her to stay with her, but Scully wanted this last night to herself. Everything was about to change. She needed one more night of her old life before she started on the new.

And, boy oh boy, was Mulder in for a surprise.


2.

Mulder spun the combination of his briefcase and popped it open. Inside were stacks of photographs, names, dates, sums of money that had moved between innumerable coded accounts--proof, in short, that what he'd been saying for six years was the truth. He knew he should be feeling triumphant--he'd survived all their machinations, he'd outlived many of the men themselves, he'd won--but he felt empty. He knew someday it would all be over, whether he finished his search or walked away, but he hadn't thought he'd feel this let down.

He made sure the most vital his papers were still there and closed the briefcase again and spun the lock. He had a few minutes still before the hearing was called to order. He looked around the room at the witnesses he would call, and the people he'd just wanted there. His mother, for one, who deserved to know the truth about her life and her marriage and her children. Mrs. Scully, who would be more hurt than comforted by what he had to say, but he could not keep her away, even when he warned her she wouldn't like what she heard. Bill Scully, who sat sullen and glaring. *Prick,* Mulder thought, and spent no more energy on him. The Lone Gunmen, of course, who looked nervous to be around so many Feds. Skinner, who had in the past five months worked as hard as Mulder at uncovering what had been hidden. They were friends now, for good. Samantha, who once she understood and believed what he was telling her had been as angry as he, and her husband Kyle, in whom Mulder had found an unexpected ally.

But where was Scully? She'd promised to come, and whether he called on her to testify or not he still wanted her there. He wanted to tell her--he'd wanted to say it last night on the phone but had lost the courage--that she was his strength, his faith, that her love made him brave. That everything he did now was for her sake, to bring her back to him. Well, he'd tried to tell her that, but she hadn't taken him altogether seriously. He'd show her later how serious he was about her. It was finally--he hoped--safe enough to show her. The ring box was in the front pocket of his suit jacket. He hoped she'd like the ring, it seemed like her, simple and elegant. It was a diamond solitaire in gold, set in what the man at the store had called it a bevel cut, so that the top of the stone was flush with the metal. Understated with a unique beauty. Just like Scully.

The head of the committee was taking her seat, followed by the rest of the committee. Behind Mulder the doors to the room were closed, and people shuffled into their seats. And Mulder still hadn't seen Scully.

Skinner sat down next to him at the table and covered the microphone with his hand. "I didn't see Agent Scully come in."

"Neither did I. But she said she would come when I spoke to her last night."

"I hope she's all right."

Mulder swallowed hard. *Please let her be okay,* he thought. "I'm sure she's fine," he said quietly, and unlocked the briefcase again.

The committee head rapped her gavel. "This hearing is now called to order. Agent Mulder, do you have an opening statement?"

"I do." He took the typed page out of the briefcase and cleared his throat. He began to read, "For the past six years I have devoted my life to a search for the truth about the question of whether we are alone in the universe. What I have uncovered is a convoluted, devious, and at times terrifying conspiracy against the American people, contrived by our own government in exchange for technology and vague promises about world supierority." He took a deep breath. Did it sound like the ravings of a madman? He should have had Scully read it over first. "Among the victims to this conspiracy have been countless innocent civilians, members of the military, my immediate superior, members of my own family and even my own partner, who several times nearly died for the part she played in my search." He glanced at Skinner, hoping he didn't mind being referred to as a victim. "I have with me now proof that these men exist, proof of their plans and their deals, proof of their coverups and proof of their lies. It is my hope that once all of this is known, the danger to the American public will be removed." He put the page aside. There was a slight commotion near the doors, but Mulder ignored it.

"You have made a grave accusation, Agent Mulder," the committe head said.

"I know, Senator. Nonetheless it is true." He glanced at the TV cameras. One question still puzzled him--even if America knew the truth, would anybody care?

One of the cameras was turning around, pointing towards the doors. People were turning as well, and murmuring as if in wonder. Skinner looked back to see what was going on, and got to his feet. "Oh my god," he said softly, and the committe head banged her gavel and said, "Quiet, please!"

"Mulder, look," Skinner said.

Mulder said hurriedly into the microphone, "Excuse me for a moment," and stood up as well.

It was Scully. She was smiling slightly at the commotion she was causing as she walked carefully down the aisle between the rows of chairs. And she was pregnant. Enormously pregnant. She looked like the child weighed almost as much as she did.

Mulder's eyes widened and his lips opened, but he couldn't think of a thing to say. Scully smiled at him in a "I'll explain later" way and sat down between Mrs. Scully and Mrs. Mulder.

"If everyone is finished gawking," the committee head said, "we have some charges to hear. Mr. Mulder, would you like to start?"

He and Skinner sat down again. Mulder could hardly repress his grin. Everything was making sense now. Her sudden departure, and her just as sudden reappearance, and some of the things she'd said the night before. Skinner cleared his throat and Mulder turned his attention to the matters at hand.


3.

"You're huge!" Langly said as he kissed Scully's cheek.

"I know, I know, I'm due any day."

"You're still a vision of lovliness," Frohike said, kissing her as well, and Scully laughed.

"Thank you very much." She accepted a kiss from Byers, who said nothing but just grinned.

Skinner came up and hugged Scully gently. "You have some explaining to do, young lady," he said.

"I promise this is not an alien child, sir, and neither Elvis nor Bigfoot were involved."

"I wasn't going to ask, but thanks for saying so. Mrs. Mulder, Mrs. Scully." He nodded to them in greeting. Mrs. Mulder was holding tightly to her daughter, and Kyle held Mrs. Mulder's other hand. Mrs. Scully had obviously been crying, not just for the revelations about what had been done to Scully but for the part Bill had played as well. Still, she stood close to her daughter and maganged to return Skinner's smile.

"Thank you for all you've done, Mr. Skinner," Samantha said, and kissed her mother again.

"It was all Agent Mulder's doing," Skinner said.

"Where is he?" Scully said, looking beyond Skinner at the crush of people at the front of the room. She couldn't pick him out from the sea of dark suits. There was so much to do still, but surely he was through for the day, he could come and at least say hello.

Skinner turned around and searched through the crowd. "Here he comes," he said and let go of Scully. It seemed to her that everyone hung back a little, giving them space to reunite.

And there he was, pushing through the people, his eyes fixed on hers. She didn't hold back her smile anymore and moved towards him as well. The crowd parted enough for them to finally meet, and they stood in front of each other. He was grinning, too.

"Hi," he said.

"Hi," she replied, and he swept her up in to his arms and buried his face in her hair.

"I should be furious with you," he said eventually, framing her face in his hands.

"But you're not."

"No, I'm not. It's kind of hard to be angry at the woman who's carrying my baby."

"And kept it from you the entire time."

"Well, I understand your motivation. To protect the baby."

"It was the only thing I could think of."

"I'd say it worked."

He leaned his forehead against hers and kissed her. "I missed you so much," he said between kisses. "I missed your voice and your jokes and your presence and--"

"And that thing I do with my tongue."

"That too. Is there somewhere we can go and talk?"

"Don't you think you ought to say goodbye to a few people first?"

He looked over at the group of their friends and sighed. "Guess I oughta. Then we talk."

"And at some point today, Mulder," Scully said into his ear, "at some point I'm going to do a few things to you that I *know* you've been missing."

His eyelids lowered and he said, "Promise?" And then he led her back to their friends.


4.

Somewhat to Scully's disappointment, Mulder took her to neither his apartment nor hers, but to a diner near Capital Hill. He ordered coffee and a BLT, she got milk and a chef's salad. People smiled at her as she walked past, something which Scully was increasingly used to but it still amused her immensely. "'The world must be peopled,'" she reminded herself with a grin. She guessed people liked to see the race would continue.

"So," Mulder said eventually, after toying with the place setting for a while. "When did you find out?"

"Find out what?" she asked innocently.

"That you're, um--"

"Pregnant, Mulder. It's called being pregnant. It's perfectly natural, people have been doing it for thousands of years."

"But you weren't supposed to be able to."

"I know. The only thing I can figure is the chip cured more than my cancer."

"So when did you find out?" he repeated firmly.

"A week before I left."

"Why did you decide not to tell me?"

"Mulder, you know why."

"I could have helped you."

"How, exactly, could you have helped me? You accomplished more without me than you would have if I'd been here to distract you."

"But what if I hadn't succeeded, Scully? Would you still be hiding from me?"

"I wasn't hiding from you. You always knew where I was."

"Only because your mother told me."

"I figured you'd weasel it out of her anyway."

"I do not weasel."

"Weasel, charm, whatever." She grinned at him.

"You're enjoying this," he said.

"I am. You know what's odd about being pregnant? For me it's normal, it's the status quo, it's the way things are. But for everybody else it's this strange, amazing, squeal-and-make-a-big-fuss kind of thing. You should have heard my mother when I told her."

"Did you tell her before or after you left?"

"Mulder, don't be bitter."

"When did you tell her?"

"After I left. Charlie's wife insisted I not keep it from her until after the baby was born, which was my original plan. I knew you'd weasel that out of her too."

"I should have been with you, Scully. That's what hurts. I missed everything."

"Well, not everything. There's still labor--and then, of course, actually raising the child."

"Well, I am going to be there for that, so I hope you're not planning to leave again."

She shook her head. "I'm not planning to, no."

"Good." The waitress came then with their entrees. They waited until she left to continue talking. "Then what are you planning?"

"Right now, just to have my baby. That's as far ahead as I care to go. Back to work eventually, I'm sure."

"Where do I fit in?"

She dropped her eyes. This was the hard part. "Mulder. . ." She poked her salad with her fork. "I'm not asking you to be anything more than what you're prepared to be."

"You think I won't be a good father."

"No, I don't think that. I just don't want you to think I did this to trap you or anything--I mean, I was as surprised as everybody--"

Silently Mulder opened his jacket and took out a velvet box. He set it by her glass of milk. Scully reached out, then drew back her hand.

"Mulder. What is this?"

"Open it."

"I'm almost afraid to."

"It won't bite."

She opened the box but did not take out the ring. "It's beautiful," she said quietly.

"Remember what I said about getting the girl in the end?" Scully nodded. "Wanna be my girl?"

"Mulder."

"I mean, I did knock you up. It would make your mother happy. My mother too, probably. At the very least it would give Bill one less reason to kick my ass."

"Bill is kind of a tender subject just now, Mulder."

"Well, you know what I mean. Marry me, Scully?"

"Yes, Mulder," she said quietly. She took the ring out of the box and put it on her finger. It was snug, but it fit.

"I had to guess the size. Do you like it?"

She looked up at him, her lips trembling, her eyes bright and damp. "Yes. I like it very much."

"Okay, then. You name the day, Scully. But don't let anybody say I don't take care of you."

"You do take care of me," Scully said quietly. She twisted the ring, watching the diamond catch the light. She shook her head in amazement.

"What?" Mulder said.

"I'm just. . .I didn't expect this. Ever. It always seemed like you'd have other things to demand your attention--I was fully prepared to be a single mother, let you do your thing and try not to burden you--"

"Scully." He leaned forward and took both her hands in both of his. "I am only going to say this once. Right now, anyway. You have never, never been an burden. And having a baby with you is . . . a miracle," he finished, trying to smile. "A miracle, Scully, not a burden. A dream."

"Oh, wow," Scully said faintly.

"What?"

"The baby is doing the conga. Get over here."

He moved to the other side of the booth, and she put his hand on her belly. The baby was indeed moving restlessly, and Mulder closed his eyes and bent his head to reverently kiss beside his hands. Scully ran her hand through his hair, smiling down at him. "A miracle, huh?" she asked quietly.

"A miracle." He kissed her mouth, his hands still cupping her belly. "I want to see you," he whispered.

"See me? What do you mean?"

"See you like this. See your body. Is that okay?"

"You can do a lot more than see me, Mulder."

"Can we? Won't it hurt you? Or the baby?"

"The geometry will be interesting, but it can be done. It won't hurt me or the baby, I promise. But first we eat. Keep the strength up." She grinned mischeviously and pulled over his plate and cup over to their side of the booth. "Think you can be done in ten minutes?"

"Ten? Hell, I can be done in five."


5.

Several months later, in an unlisted office in a undisclosed place . . .

The agent put the packet on the desk. "Here you are, sir. Marriage certificate, birth certificate, photographs--it's all there. Even tapes of the two of them, er. . ."

"Uh-huh." The man put down his cigarette and opened the packet. He flipped through the photographs, pausing on the ones of the new parents with their baby. His craggy face was sad as he looked at these, but he quickly smoothed that expression away. At last he sighed and put all the papers and photographs back in the packet.

"So what's next, sir? They never leave the baby alone, their home security system is top-notch--of course, this can be overcome, and if you're willing to wait a few years, when the child starts school--"

"Leave them alone." Softly.

"Sir?"

"Leave them alone. Let them be. In short, don't do anything."

"But sir, you said--"

"I know what I said. I know what I'm saying now. Leave them alone." He lit a match from his seemingly endless supply and held it to the corner of the packet until the flame caught, and then he dropped it in the wastebasket.

The agent stuttered helplessly for a moment, then said, "All right, sir. As you wish."

"That's right. As I wish. Good night."

"Good night, sir." The agent stood up and left the office. Leave them alone? When things were just starting to pick up? He'd never told anyone this, but he found domesticity so much more interesting than the exotic explorations of the paranormal. Maybe he'd observe them a little longer, because now real life was beginning for them, and that too would be fun to watch.

End.


"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. . ." Song of Solomon 8:7.

 

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