Title: Homecoming
Author: savagemom
Feedback: Okay, but be gentle! it's my first one.
Archiving: Please do, just let me know so I can visit!
Disclaimer: They're not mine, please don't sue me.
Spoilers: Requiem
Rating: PG
Classification: Story, MSR

Summary: Mulder's return, and a new arrival.

Notes: Thanks to Elaine and Jen for all of their support and editorial help with my first fanfic!

*I've come back to you, Scully. Everything will be okay.*

Arms around her. Warmth. A hand on her face. Peace.

Scully breathed a deep sigh and relaxed into the warm embrace, relief washing over her, washing away months of pain and worry. *Hang on to this,* something in her mind told her. *Remember this for later...*

"Thank you, God, thank... "

She awoke with a jolt. The phone was ringing. She flipped on the light and stared at it, still disoriented, wondering why it was ringing in the middle of the night. All at once, she knew what it meant. The months of anguish; sleepless nights, countless dead ends, hope and despair; it all came down to this moment, this ringing phone. It was all going to end now, for better or for worse. She took a deep breath and picked up the phone, a sick feeling washing over her. "Scully," she said softly, her voice still heavy with sleep. She braced herself when she heard Skinner's voice. "We have him. You'd better come right away."

Scully exhaled, feeling lightheaded as a second wave of adrenaline surged through her veins. She swallowed hard. "Is he?"

"He's alive, but unconscious. We're at Georgetown up in the ICU." "I'll be right there."

She hung up, but continued to stare at the phone for a moment, letting it sink in. *Alive.* She clung to the word, rejoicing in it, feeling the power of it. *Mulder's alive. He's back.*

Fully awake now, Scully grabbed for the stretch pants on her chair, leaving on the oversized shirt she had been sleeping in. These days, it hardly mattered; even the larger maternity clothes felt too small. After a quick trip to the bathroom, she dashed out the door, her heart pounding with nervous excitement. It was a cool night and her trench coat no longer fit her right, but she barely noticed the temperature as she maneuvered herself into the car and started it. The dash clock read 2:40.

Her hands were shaking as she pulled out into the late night traffic and headed for the hospital. I need to calm down, she thought to herself. She could feel the buzz of thoughts and emotions spinning and swirling through her tired brain and willed them to stop so she could regain her control. She needed to stay in control. She slowed to wait at a red light, and took a moment to collect her thoughts, to prepare herself for the next few hours. She tried to picture the scene she was likely to encounter upon arriving at the hospital. Skinner standing near the bed, looking serious, nurses coming in and out, machinery beeping and humming, and Mulder in the center of it all... The baby gave a little kick and was still again. Scully wondered what effect the excitement was having on him as her heartbeat quickened in his ears and her hormones flooded his body. What will this mean for you?

She had almost given up hope that he would return before the birth, and now the image of them together in the delivery room taunted her, hearing him coaching her through her contractions, seeing their child enter the world together, smiling at each other through joyful tears. She pushed the thought aside, realizing that it was too much to ask. He was alive, and that was good enough for now. Another thought nagged at her, something she needed to remember, something that had just happened; the dream. She remembered the message delivered in the dream and shook her head in disbelief. Had he been trying to tell her?

Could it have been a coincidence?

She allowed herself a moment to reconnect with that all is right with the world feeling she had experienced for those few moments. It was such a vivid dream, and remembering the serenity of it helped to calm her as she parked the car and half walked, half ran toward the hospital entrance.

Her arrival in the ICU had a surrealistic deja vu quality to it. It dawned on her that Mulder had been through a similar sequence of events following her own abduction. When he had arrived at the hospital, thankful, worried, confused and angry, he had found her barely clinging to life, unable to even breathe on her own, her body obscured in a mass of wires and tubes and machines. She was prepared to find Mulder in the same condition as she rounded the corner into the ICU and her eyes connected with those of AD Skinner's. "Agent Scully."

He looked different in workout clothes, but wore the familiar serious expression, mixed with relief; he was glad to see her. She reached out and touched his arm, her eyes questioning his. "He's in here."

His hand was strong against her back as he guided her into Mulder's room. "It was touch and go for a little while, but he's stable now. "

As she stepped inside, she hesitated briefly, closing her eyes, not wanting to see him, yet again, on the brink of death. How many times now have I walked into a hospital room to find him like this?

She opened her eyes and looked upon Mulder's unconscious form, surprised at first by what she saw. Seven months' growth of head and facial hair obscured the familiar features she had learned to read so well. Her eyes left his face and traveled over the rest of him. Aside from the IV and a few EEG and EKG leads, he was free of much of the equipment she had expected to see. She was relieved to see that he was breathing on his own and did not need a respirator, but his once muscular arms appeared to have lost some of their shape, and his hospital gown clad body seemed weaker and more vulnerable.

Scully moved closer and touched his face, felt the warmth of his skin beneath her fingertips. Feeling the life within him reassured her. She opened each of his eyes to test his pupils with her penlight, and was relieved to see they were reactive. Looking to the confusion on the EEG monitor, she remembered to check his chart. Abnormal temporal lobe activity. Again. Interesting. She filed it away in her head to check on later. He was weak and dehydrated, but steadily improving with IV fluids. There was nothing alarming in the chart, but without knowing how long he had been like this, she was hesitant to get her own or Skinner's hopes up yet.

Skinner raised an expectant eyebrow at her, waiting for her assessment of the situation. "His vitals are good. Blood work is okay. Some abnormal brain activity. We won't know much else until he regains consciousness."

Her eyes returned to Mulder, although it pained her to look at him in such a helpless state. She took a breath, then asked, "Where was he found?

How did he get here?"

Skinner scowled. "No one knows. He was found on a gurney in the ER in the clothes he was wearing when he disappeared. I sent the clothes and trace evidence from his body to the lab for analysis. No one saw who brought him in."

The answer didn't surprise her, and she saw in his eyes the frustration bubbling inside him. Scully turned away and stared at Mulder again. "I'm going to get some coffee," he said through his teeth. His expression softened slightly as he took in her defeated, pregnant form. He touched her shoulder. "Can I get you anything?

How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, really," she mumbled, her eyes fixed on Mulder's scruffy face. "Some juice would be good," she added as he left the room.

Scully closed her eyes. Skinner's anger had reignited her own, and she crossed her arms in a determined, protective gesture around her oversized belly. *They did it to us again. They got away with it again. What next?

When will this end?

How will we keep the baby safe from this?*

The unfairness of it astounded her all over again. Other people had normal lives; had jobs and families and children; without mysterious disappearances, alien abductions, unexplained miraculous pregnancies.*

She felt her anger wane as she drew her hand across her belly and felt a responding kick. This baby was a miracle, and now there was hope that Mulder would be there to share in it with her. She approached him and lifted his limp hand, placing it against her belly where she had felt the kick, as she had done so many times in her fantasies, as if doing so would, by some magic, bring him back cracking jokes about which sport he would play. There was no magic, of course, but it felt good to have him touching her, touching the baby through her, even in his unconscious state. She held his hand there for several minutes, mourning the loss of the moments they should have shared throughout her pregnancy, while simultaneously overwhelmed with gratitude that he was alive at all, that she could have even this, albeit flawed, moment with him.

Mulder's hand was warm in her own. Her eyes searched his face for some clue as to where he had been all these months, but found nothing. She was glad to see him, thankful to have him back, but there was no feeling of peace like there had been in her dream. She took his hand from her belly, sat down next to him and kissed his forehead. Suddenly very tired, she lay her head down near his shoulder on the bed. The baby moved and she felt a cramp. She groaned and waited it out. "Dana? Are you all right?"

She was startled to hear Skinner use her first name and sat up, the cramp fading.

She looked up at him. His concern for her was almost endearing. "I'm okay. Braxton hicks contractions are common in late pregnancy. They're like a warm up for the real thing."

She smiled faintly and accepted the juice. "I could get a nurse " "No, really. I'm fine."

They both stared at Mulder for a moment in silence, he sipping his coffee, she holding her juice. "There isn't much we can do for him right now. Why don't you go get some rest? I'll stay and wait for news."

Scully's eyes met Skinner's. "I'm not leaving."

His voice softened and he averted his gaze. "Dana, the baby..."

"I don't get a lot of sleep anyway these days. I'll be okay."

Another cramp. She rolled her eyes and put her head back down. She had enjoyed many things about pregnancy, but these uterine cramps and pains were not among them. She exhaled and waited.

"Hello, I'm Dr. Fisk."

A tall, lanky man with thinning hair and glasses had entered and was shaking hands with Skinner. "Assistant Director Skinner."

He indicated Scully, who stood up. "This is Mulder's partner, Dr. Dana Scully."

He shook hands with Scully and asked, "Are you a medical doctor?"

When she replied that she was, he lifted Mulder's chart and held it so that Scully could view it with him. "There's not much here to go on. We're treating him the best way we know how, but without knowing how he got this way... "

Scully nodded. "I was wondering about the temporal lobe activity. Where exactly.. "

"Right here."

He flipped to the last page of the chart, which depicted a line drawing of the brain, separated into its various lobes and gyri. He circled a small region of the long side lobe. "Does he have a history of temporal lobe epilepsy that you know of?"

"No, but he has had some disturbances in the same region before; about two years ago."

Scully and Skinner exchanged glances, and she wondered how much of Mulder's bizarre medical history she should go into. She decided not to mention the fact that the last time this had happened, he had gained the ability to read the thoughts of those around him until his little "procedure" at the hands of the consortium had removed the anomaly, and the corresponding psychic ability. "Any record of that might be helpful in understanding his condition."

"I understand. I'll see what we can do."

Scully grimaced as her belly tightened again. Dr. Fisk regarded her carefully. "Are you okay?"

She nodded, smiling faintly. "When are you due?"

"About two more weeks."

"That's the face my wife made when she was in labor." He raised his eyebrows at her, then made some notes on the chart. "I have some other patients to check, but I'll be around if there are any changes."

He gave them a reassuring tight lipped smile as he left. *Labor.*

Scully pushed the thought from her mind. There was too much here to think about as it was. She turned to Skinner and straightened, her composure returning. "He's demonstrating the same abnormal brain activity as last time. It's in a region of the brain some refer to as the 'God module.'

Stimulation of the area has been linked to reports of religious, out of body, and near death experiences, psychic phenomena "

"Abduction experiences?"

"Yes, it's one theory explaining why so called abductees report such similar sensory phenomena. What seems like an abduction experience is merely abnormal impulses from that region of the brain. Or," she paused and looked at Mulder, remembering many a debate with him over this very issue. Knowing what he would say if he could speak at the moment, she added, "an actual abduction could be the cause of the abnormal brain activity."

Another cramp. This was becoming annoying. She leaned forward and took a breath.

Skinner lowered his eyebrows. "How do you know you're not in labor?"

Good question, she mused. Again, she pushed the possibility aside, more determined than ever that any baby of hers would have better timing. "I'm not," she insisted. "I just need a snack or something. I'll sit down awhile."

She showed him her best "I'm fine, leave me alone" face. Skinner, looking irritated, left for the cafeteria and Scully headed for the bathroom again. This was another part of pregnancy she was finding increasingly annoying. She took her time, stopping to wash her face and look in the mirror. A tired, puffy, bedraggled woman looked back at her.

*What I need is a hot bath and a good night's rest,* she thought. She tossed around the idea of finding somewhere to lie down at the hospital, or asking them to bring a cot into Mulder's private room. Although she was tired, she decided against it for now. Sleep would have to wait. Right now, he was showing steady improvement; he could wake up at any minute and she wanted to be there when it happened. When she emerged, Skinner was waiting with a turkey sandwich, a cookie, and more juice. She sat down to eat. "Thank you," she said between mouthfuls. "This is just what I needed."

They sat in silence for several minutes while she ate. Skinner sat in the corner chair, staring at the ceiling, his arms folded across his chest. Scully looked up from her meal and saw his eyes starting to close. "Sir, why don't you go and get some rest?"

Skinner looked at Mulder and Scully, assessing the situation. "I'll get a little shut eye here. Wake me if anything happens."

She smiled at him. "Thank you, sir."

He was asleep in an instant, and she returned to her sandwich, watching Mulder as she ate, wondering how many hours, days or weeks she may wind up sitting here, waiting for a change, a blink, an acknowledgement of her presence. She set her food tray aside and turned her full attention to Mulder, holding his hand, touching him, willing him to wake up and talk to her. Where have you been, she asked him silently. Where are you now?

Just in case this time he wasn't able read her thoughts, she spoke aloud to him, stroking his face, resolving to track down a razor later and make him look like himself again. "Mulder, it's me. I'm here with you. Waiting for you to wake up so we can talk."

*And boy, do we need to talk*, she added in her head as the baby squirmed. "We're so glad you're back, but we need to see you're okay. Can you please wake up and talk to me?"

No response. Feeling more desperate, she looked at the EEG monitor. "Mulder?"

There was definitely a change in response to her voice. A good sign. "Mulder, I think you can hear me. That's good. You're in the hospital. They're taking good care of you. You are doing much better now."

She continued with the positive talk until she was interrupted by another cramp, this one harder than the last. The snack had not helped. Could this really be labor?

*Not yet,* she pleaded with the baby, *not now.*

She gave up talking and laid her head next to Mulder's, feeling the reassuring warmth of his body against her. Closing her eyes, she drifted back to the serenity of the dream. His voice speaking inside her head, telling her everything would be okay, his hands stroking her face; it was all so vivid. She relaxed into the peacefulness of the dream

and felt a trickle of water down her leg, followed by a hard contraction.

Mulder forgotten for a moment, she felt an odd mix of excitement and dread fill her as she waited for the contraction to end. Unsure of what to do, she looked over at Skinner, who was snoring softly in the chair. She decided not to wake him just yet and waddled to the bathroom, returning with a towel to sit on. *So maybe I am starting labor,* she thought. *It could go on for hours, even days. If I were at home, I would wait a few hours before calling anyone. I can stay here a little longer.*

She resumed her comfortable position of before and snuggled a little closer to him now, resting her head on his chest, soothed by his strong heartbeat. It felt so good to be near him again, the contractions were only a minor disruption. So much to sort out, so much happening at once, and in a few hours she would be a mother, she would finally be able to hold her baby in her arms, and (hopefully) she would soon have a lot to tell Mulder.

She wondered for the millionth time how he would take the news, what he would think of the baby, how he would handle fatherhood, especially without the nine month adjustment period she had had. They hadn't talked about children much since becoming intimate with each other, but when they had, he had expressed his sorrow that it would never happen for them. She reminded herself that it was possible he had found it easier to say this when he truly believed she was infertile. She tried to picture him holding a baby, talking softly to the tiny person in his arms, and she smiled, even as another hard contraction began. *Remember your dream*, the voice in her head told her. *Just let go and relax.*

*Let go and relax.*

That was what it had been like, finally making love with Mulder after all the years they had spent together. It had been so good with him; so natural. She closed her eyes and remembered how it had felt to stretch out naked on top of him, his hands caressing her back, his heartbeat lulling her to sleep. It had taken so long for them to finally allow themselves to take that step; to let their partnership expand to include a romantic relationship. Once they had taken it, they had laughed about how easy, how natural it was. "Why didn't we think of this earlier", they often wondered aloud to each other as they snuggled up afterward, still breathing hard, their sweat mixing and drying and cooling their naked bodies in the dim light.

Thinking back over those early days was bittersweet when she reminded herself of how quickly it all ended; really only a matter of weeks before he returned to Oregon and disappeared. She remembered learning that he was gone, and finding out she was pregnant almost at the same time. It was almost too much to bear, this mix of emotions and hormones which kept her on a perpetual roller coaster, vacillating between the joy of knowing there was a true miracle growing inside of her, and the gut wrenching sorrow of losing him. He was such a part of her daily life, having him gone felt like a part of her own body was missing. So many times, she would look up from what she was doing, expecting to see him there, or say something, expecting a response. Sometimes she had heard his response anyway, despite the fact that he was gone.

The contractions were starting to feel stronger, and she timed a few of them to see if they were regular. Six minutes apart and about a minute long; yes, this is labor, she thought, a shiver of excitement running through her. It won't be long now. Scully looked around the room. Skinner was still fast asleep in the chair. Through the window across the room, the sky was starting to lighten. Is it morning already?

She looked at Mulder again, wondering if he had any awareness of her or his surroundings. His EEG had registered a change in activity in several locations when she had spoken to him, but she had no idea of whether this was a function of mere sensory input or of higher consciousness. She watched the monitor carefully, searching for answers in the rows of squiggly lines that flowed across it, wishing they could tell her more. Even as the next contraction began, her gaze remained fixed on the monitor as she slowed her breath and waited. *Relax and breathe. You're doing great. Just let go*

As she watched the monitor, she noticed something that disrupted her concentration. During her contraction, his EEG had changed again. Was it a coincidence, or was he, on some level, responding to her labor?

She scoffed at her own wishful thinking. She had wanted so badly for him to be a part of this that she was looking for clues in the enigmatic zigzags of his EEG now. She put the idea aside and started thinking about what to do next. After all, she was already in the hospital, but she would need to call her doctor and her mother. She sat up and stretched, preparing to make the phone calls, when another contraction ripped through her. Caught off guard, she moaned and doubled over, waking Skinner with a start.

"Agent Scully!"

He was beside her in two strides, his hands on her shoulders. "Nurse!

We need some help in here!"

Scully tried to breathe and wait it out. After what seemed like an eternity, it was over. "It's fine, sir," she said, catching her breath. "But I am in labor. Could you call my mother for me?"

He nodded as the nurse rushed in. "She's having a baby. Can you get a wheelchair for her and take her ? "

"Upstairs," Scully finished for him. "I'll need Doctor Bennett." The contraction was over now, and she felt foolish that such a fuss was suddenly being made over her. "I think I can make it to the elevator." After all, she'd survived injuries, a near fatal gunshot wound, cancer, this was not so bad in comparison. She stood and gathered up her coat.

The nurse ran for a wheelchair as Skinner dialed the phone. *Gee, Mulder and I are so calm,* she thought with a chuckle. *Of course, he's unconscious, the lucky* "Ooowwwww!"

She cried out, despite herself, as another one hit her. They were starting to come awfully fast. Suddenly she didn't feel so calm anymore, and the wheelchair idea was sounding pretty good.

The nurse returned and helped her into the chair. "Your doctor is on call this morning. She's upstairs waiting for you. How close are your contractions?"

"I don't know," she managed. "Close."

"I'll take you right up. Everything will be just fine."

She turned to wheel Scully away. Skinner, looking surprisingly awkward, called after her, "What should I do?"

"Stay with Mulder," Scully said as the nurse wheeled her out of the room. She held up her cell phone. "Call me if there's a change."

She doubled over in the chair and moaned, caught off guard by the next contraction. Catching a last glimpse of Mulder, she once again felt a pang of disappointment that he would not be with her. *Time to let go*, the voice in her head told her. It was time to forget about Mulder for a little while and get to work.

Scully's OB, Claire Bennett, was waiting at the elevator for her. She was smiling, her dark hair pulled back into a ponytail which rested along the back of her green scrubs. Scully was glad to see the friendly face of the woman who had seen her through so much. "Well, Dana, I hear you've been secretly laboring in the ICU this whole time."

"My partner's back," Scully panted, trying to relax before the next contraction hit. "He's alive."

"I know; it's wonderful news," Claire replied, parking the chair next to the bed. She rubbed Scully's shoulders as the next contraction peaked. "I guess we'll have some news for him when he wakes up."

"I guess so."

Scully looked up at her friend and managed a faint smile. "Let's get you changed and I'll check you. I'm sure it won't be long now."

She stepped out into the hall and gestured for a nurse to come in. "This is Debbie, she'll be helping me take care of you, so let her know if you need anything. I'll be right back."

She left the room while Debbie helped Scully change into a gown and use the bathroom. She was just climbing onto the delivery bed when her mother walked in, looking disheveled and worried. "Hi, sweetheart," she said softly, crossing to her daughter's side. "How are you doing?"


Scully closed her eyes and waited out another contraction. When it ended, she looked up. "Mulder's back, Mom."

"I know. Mr. Skinner told me."

She walked over to the bathroom and wet a washcloth. "I'm oka aaaaaggggggg!"

"Try to relax, honey."

The nurse strapped an external fetal monitor around her abdomen while Margaret Scully wiped her daughter's forehead with the cool washcloth.

*Yes, relax. Remember the peace you felt in the dream. Breathe. Relax*

She took a deep breath and let the contraction wash over her. *Breathe. Let go*

Claire was back, ready to get down to business. She checked the monitor tape, which seemed to meet her approval. After a quick check, she informed Scully that she was almost fully dilated and would be pushing soon. "You've been working hard," she said encouragingly. "The baby is doing great. Hang in there. It won't be long now at all."

Scully nodded, trying to stay focused. Not again, she thought as each contraction came with barely a chance for her to recover from the last one. *The dream, the dream, the voice, the serenity, breathe, breathe, let go, relax... you can do it...*

No, Mulder wasn't here, but she could hear him in her head, telling her what to do, reminding her to breathe, encouraging her to go on. *This is difficult, she thought, but I can do it. In a few minutes it will all be over and I will have a baby in my arms.*

The contractions kept coming like waves, one after the other, and she fought to stay on top of them, to not lose her focus. She was dimly aware of her mother's gentle touch, the cool washcloth, the occasional sips of juice, but her mind remained locked in on riding those waves and listening to the voice in her head. *Imagine you're at the beach; you're on a raft in the ocean; it is a warm day; seagulls are calling to each other; ride the waves. Relax and let go; relax; relax*

Gradually, the contractions spaced out and she began to regain her awareness of herself, her mother, Claire, the nurse. She looked around, blinking. A lightheaded buzzy feeling obscured reality for a moment. It must be time to push, she thought, although she didn't feel like it. "Is it time to push?" she groggily asked Claire. "If you have to ask, it isn't time," Claire said with a smile.

A new contraction started and Scully knew it was time. It was like a new kind of wave, crashing down on her, squeezing her, pushing everything down and out. The sensation surprised her and she emerged from it gasping for breath.

"It's time," Claire told her. She helped her into more of a sitting position to give her more leverage and so she could see the baby as it came out. "Next contraction, I want you to push with it, okay?" Scully nodded and felt it again. She pushed. Pushed again. It ended. Such a powerful feeling... in her life, she had witnessed a few births and even delivered one baby, but there was nothing in those experiences that could have prepared her for this. As the pushing continued, she could feel the baby working his way down. *You're almost there. I'm so proud of you.* "Give me your hand."

Claire took Scully's hand and placed it where the baby's head was crowning. She gasped and grabbed her knees as the next wave crashed down. "Dana, open your eyes, here comes the head."

She watched in disbelief as the baby's head inched forward. She looked over at her mom, who returned her gaze with glistening eyes. *Almost there. You can do it. Everything is okay. Let go.*

One last push and he was out. A tremendous feeling of release came over her as her new son was handed to her. She brought his slippery body up to her chest and clutched him near her breast, where he cried for a minute, quickly comforted by his mother's familiar heartbeat. Debbie handed her a towel to wipe him off.

The feeling of euphoria was indescribable, and it occurred to Scully that she hadn't felt this good since the night the baby was conceived. Tears poured out of her eyes, obscuring her vision of the baby in her arms. Margaret handed her a tissue and bent closer to see her grandson. "He's beautiful, Dana."

"Isn't he? Oh, Mom, I can't believe it."

"I know, sweetheart."

She stroked her daughter's hair while Claire delivered the placenta. Debbie clamped the cord and helped Scully cut it. The baby began to root and suck on his fist. "I think he's ready to nurse," Margaret offered.

The first attempt was awkward, but after a few minutes, instinct began to take over and finally the baby was nursing contentedly. Scully felt a new kind of euphoria, watching him nurse, feeling her mothering instincts emerge. She gently dried him off as he nursed, noticing how his eyes stared innocently into hers.

Suddenly, nothing else mattered in the world except this little guy in her arms. She was in love. Every part of him was perfect; his little fingers and toes, his tiny ears, his dark fuzzy hair. She watched as his little eyes began to close while he was nursing, a look of pure contentment on his face. Time seemed frozen. Scully allowed herself to become lost in the little face, forgetting Mulder, her mother, the hospital; nothing else mattered.

When he finally dozed off, she reluctantly handed him to Claire, who gently placed him on the scale, then in his bassinette, where Debbie measured him and footprinted him carefully. "He's been through a big ordeal. He'll probably sleep for a few hours," Debbie said.

Reassured that he would not need her for a little while, Scully gingerly got up and, with Margaret's help, made her way to the bathroom to get cleaned up. "You take a bath, honey. I'll keep an eye on him," Margaret told her. "Does he have a name?" she called, walking over to the bassinette.

"No, not yet."

This was the only detail she had neglected in the preparation for the birth, despite her mother's gentle reminders. Although she knew the baby was a boy from the time of her first ultrasound, she continued to hold out hope that Mulder would be back in time to name his son. She felt she owed him that much.

A long soak in the tub rejuvenated Scully, and she emerged from the bathroom a little sore, but feeling more upbeat and energetic than she had in weeks. Her mother had unpacked some clothes she had brought, and lunch had just arrived. Scully smiled and got dressed, then settled into the wheelchair and pulled up the tray of food. She was anxious to know how Mulder was doing, and after a few bites, she dialed Skinner's cell phone. "Skinner here."

"Hello, sir, it's me."


How are you?"

"Just fine. It's a boy, 8 pounds even. We're both fine."

"That's great. Mulder's in good shape too. I've been debating whether to let you know; he's been stirring." "Okay." She exhaled with relief. "I'll be down as soon as I can."

She looked at her mother as she hung up, prepared for an argument, but none came. "Do you want to leave him here while you go down?"

"No, let's take him, in case he wakes up. You come too, Mom."

Margaret handed her the sleeping baby, wrapped in a blanket, and took the chair's handles. "We're going for a walk," Margaret told Debbie as they passed her in the hallway. "We won't be too long."

Scully's eyes remained fixed on the baby in her arms, amazed at how giddy with love and excitement she was, and longing to share the feeling with Mulder right away. Skinner stood to greet them as they wheeled into the room. "I didn't expect to see you so soon. Congratulations, Agent Scully."

He peered at the sleeping baby's face, not quite sure of what to say. "He really is beautiful."

He turned to Scully's mother and took her hand. "Nice to see you again, Margaret."

"Oh, yes, same here, Mr. Skinner." "Walter, please," he said with a rare smile, quickly followed by a friendly scowl at Scully's raised eyebrow. He changed the subject.

"Well, we have good news here also. Mulder's condition remains stable, and the doctor says the brainwave irregularities seem to be diminishing. Whatever was affecting him seems to be wearing off."

Scully reached for the chart and read what amounted to the same comments there. "His brain activity is returning to normal," she said hopefully, and moved carefully into the chair next to Mulder's bed, setting down the chart and picking up his hand with her free hand. Skinner was offering to walk Margaret to the cafeteria.

"Take your time," Scully called after them. She wanted Mulder to herself for a while.

*Alone at last. Just the three of us.*

"Mulder," she called softly. "Mulder, please wake up."

There was an earnest component to her voice, which surprised even her. She leaned forward and kissed him, yearning to connect with him, wincing at the pain as she shifted positions in the chair. "Mulder, can you hear me?" She looked hopefully at the EEG but couldn't tell if anything meaningful was happening. Then she felt it. Had he squeezed her hand, or was it wishful thinking?

"I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere soon," she reassured him, praying he could hear her. Dr. Fisk popped his head in, interrupting her efforts. "Oh, congratulations!

How did it go?"

Scully smiled at him. "See for yourself."

He came over and smiled at the baby sleeping in the crook of her arm. "He's a keeper."

He reached for Mulder's chart. "How's my patient doing? Any changes?"

"He may have squeezed my hand, but I'm not sure."

She returned her gaze to Mulder, still amazed that he was really here in front of her. "Well, it's hard to say for sure, but his vitals are good, his brain activity seems almost normal now. I still have no idea what put him into this state, but I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't come out of it soon. I'm arranging to have him moved, since he really doesn't need to be in the ICU now."

Mulder moved his head and groaned. "Mr. Mulder? I'm Dr. Fisk, you're in the hospital."

He lifted Mulder's eyelid and tested his pupil, then nodded to Scully encouragingly. Mulder muttered something that sounded like "Scully" and she felt a lump swell in her throat as he drifted out of consciousness again.

"Why don't you keep talking to him? It may help bring him out of it."

He paused on the way out. "Congratulations again. I'll be back in a little while."

More determined than ever, Scully talked, coaxed, rubbed and prodded, willing him awake. It was like trying to drag him from a deep sleep he didn't want to leave. "Come on, Mulder, wake up," she coaxed him. Finally, he stirred and felt for her hand. His eyes opened slowly, then shut again. Scully found the control pad on his bed and dimmed the light. A surge of excitement shot through her. "Mulder?"

He blinked, grateful for the dim lights. "Scully."

His voice was weak, gravely, like he hadn't used it in a long time. He stroked the back of her hand with his thumb and a sleepy smile crossed his lips. "Am I glad to see you."

Her eyes filled. Two miracles in one day were more than she could handle. "Me too," she whispered. "How are you?" she asked, choking back tears. "Better now that you're back."

He was staring at her quizzically, trying to figure out what was different. He paused, then added in a disappointed voice, "Where've you been?"

So he had been aware of her as she sat with him. She decided not to go into where she had been just yet. "Don't ask. Where've you been?"

He groaned. "Ditto."

The confused look suddenly left his face, as if he had just remembered what he wanted to ask. He looked intently at her and murmured,

"The baby. Scully, how's the baby?"

He looked worried, and she saw his face tighten as if he were afraid to hear the answer.

That caught her off guard. She stared at him in surprise. "The baby..."

"Please tell me he's all right." He stopped, looking confused again. His eyes remained fixed on hers. "There is a baby, right? I didn't imagine it?"

She was reeling. After all the months of worrying about how to break the news, he was telling her he already knew? "No, you're right, but, how did you know?"

She looked down at the little face, still sleeping in the crook of her arm. "Did someone tell you?

Did you hear us talking?" Mulder closed his eyes, the worried look still there. Her voice softened as she reassured him. "The baby's fine, Mulder."

Tears welled up in her eyes as she watched him smile faintly. "How long have you known?"

"I'm not really sure, but I knew."

He looked at her with a groggy, no really I'm dead serious look. "I knew all along. Somehow, I must have had access to you."

He watched her eyes grow wetter. Talking took a lot of effort, but he continued. "I tried to reach you, to talk to you." The sincerity in his voice was clear. He was telling the truth. Scully wiped her eyes with her free hand. Her voice shook. "I had dreams. I heard you, felt you touching me. It was real?

What else do you remember about where you were?"

She shook her head.

He smiled. "I don't know. Everything is still so foggy."

He tried to sit up and winced before going on. "I remember thinking that time was moving quickly. It doesn't feel like I've been gone for months, but I must have been. I saw you getting bigger. Heard you praying. Feeling the baby move. Crying. I knew when you were in labor earlier, but by then I think I was coming out of whatever it was; I remember trying to help you, wanting to be there. Thinking of waves on the beach," he added.

Tears ran down her cheeks and she laughed, wiping them away. She remembered the dream and his voice in her head reminding her to relax and let go. In a way, her wish had come true. He had been there with her for the birth.

The familiar sparkle was slowly returning to his eyes. "So, when can I see him?

What's his name?"

"I thought I'd leave that up to you. Why don't you get to know each other a little first?

He's right here."

Scully used the control to lower the bed and raise the upper part to a sitting position. She gingerly stood up and moved to sit beside him on the bed, the baby between them. "Mulder, meet your son."

He drew in his breath and met her eyes with his own, tears welling up in them. He blinked them away and turned his gaze on the sleeping infant. "We did this together," he whispered, still staring in wonder at the baby. Scully unwrapped the blanket a little, revealing the rest of his little body.

"Yes, we did," she replied, her own tears now streaming down her face. Mulder leaned toward her and rested his face against hers, tracing his finger down the baby's arm to his hand. The little fingers grasped his own.

Skinner and Margaret approached the doorway, prepared to resume their vigil, but were greeted instead by the sight of Mulder and Scully sitting together on the bed, cheek to cheek, staring down at the baby in Scully's arms. They watched in silence for a moment, then Skinner took Margaret's arm, drawing her away. "Let's give them some time."

Margaret nodded, blinking back her own tears. She smiled at him as they walked back toward the cafeteria. "I could go for a piece of pie."

The baby woke up and began rooting at his fists again. Scully offered him a breast and smiled as he took it easily this time. She looked back up at Mulder and saw on his face a look of pure awe. Sitting there in the dim light with Mulder beside her and their baby in her arms, Scully offered up a prayer of thanks. She considered what they had been through over the years and how they always made it back to each other eventually. Yes, someone up there must be watching out for us, she decided. It's a good thing, too, she thought as the baby started to drift back to sleep. She had the feeling that the REAL adventure was about to begin.


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