Title: Tree of Stars
Author: Ericka D
Written: March 2002
Distribution: anywhere, but email me first so I know where it is going!
Spoilers: unless you've been living under a rock you won't be spoiled, but just in case: Je Souhaite, Requiem. This is a Doggett free zone.
Rating: PG, I guess. Nothing you haven't seen on primetime.
Classification: MSR
Disclaimer: All characters belong to 1013. No infringement intended. They'll probably go running back, anyway. I'm too mean to them.

Summary: Exactly how does Scully relax when her thoughts turn to Mulder in the middle of the night?

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Bugs for being the best beta a girl could have. I finally did it! And to Sue, thanks for the Caddyshack moment! Notes: I wrote this after Requiem, before Doggett entered the universe. So a lot is different. But still relevant, I hope! This is also my first posted fic. If you like it, let me know and I'll give you more.

She awoke to a warm weight resting around her waist. She smiled a sleepy smile, content in her lover's embrace. Feather-light kisses made their way down her neck and across her shoulder.

Scully turned to face Mulder. Her blood ran cold. It wasn't Mulder. It wasn't even human.

It looked at her, wide, unblinking eyes threatening to devour her. It cocked its head, as if studying her, contemplating if she was worth swallowing whole. Its claws dug into the skin of her arm, leaving crimson trails on the pure white sheets. She watched in horror as her blood was absorbed through its thick green skin, claiming her as its own; as it had already claimed Mulder.

She screamed, the nightmare shattering her sleep. Her eyes fluttered open, her mouth gasping for air.

She looked at the clock on her bedside table. 2:40AM. She shivered. Jesus, it was cold in her room. She took stock of the bed. Her blanket lay on the rug, a result of yet another attack of the night terrors. Her skin was still slick with sweat.

A sudden, swift kick to her lower abdomen brought her attention away from her dream. She reached down and rubbed her belly. "Did I wake you?"

The baby inside her kicked in response. Yup, she thought. Guess so. In its first seven months of life, the baby had seemingly learned that whenever Mom was at rest, it was time for exercise.

Feeling her child turn and move within her, Scully realized she wasn't going to be able to fall back to sleep. She slowly rose from the bed and slid her invisible feet into her ratty slippers. Walking toward the kitchen, she caught a glimpse of herself in her mirror.

The light from the hallway illuminated her body, foreign but welcome. Her hair was thicker, more red than ever before. Her face had a bit more weight on it than she liked. Scully pulled her nightshirt taut, inspecting her now heavy breasts. She had always wondered what it would be like to have a larger than average chest. She decided that she liked it. Her belly, growing larger each day, was the most amazing thing she had ever seen. Her body was undergoing so many changes, changes that would eventually reverse themselves. But her enlarged belly was keeping her baby safe and warm inside her. Scully couldn't wait to hold her child. What would he or she look like?

She watched her reflection in the mirror turn to sadness as her thoughts shifted to Mulder. Would he ever see his child? She wanted to believe it with all her heart. But as the days passed, Scully reluctantly realized she was losing hope.

Early in her pregnancy, she was so focused on Mulder-- worrying about him- wondering where he was, that she ignored herself. Her health, and that of her child, had been threatened. Her doctors, her mother, even Skinner warned her to take better care of herself. Scully felt as if she had to choose between her baby and her lover. So she didn't act as Mulder would have, but did what Mulder would have wanted. She focused on the baby.

She felt Mulder's presence every day. Not just through the baby, but through her work. A partner had been assigned to her early on, but Scully had long since taken on the sarcastic, bullheaded characteristics usually attributed to Mulder. Agent Reese was a fine candidate, as fine as they came for the X-Files anyway. Agent Reese was cool, calm, and collected. Nothing like her wired, Fly By The Seat Of His Pants partner.

Upon their first meeting, he had her fuming with anger. She walked into the office, *their office* and found Agent Daniel Reese sitting in Mulder's chair. He was engrossed in a case file, and didn't look up until she cleared her throat.

"You must be Agent Scully." His plastic smile melted in her fiery gaze.

She ignored his outstretched hand and asked in an icy tone what he was reading. She had sworn to herself that she was going to be polite, but seeing him invading Mulder's space sent her over the edge.

"Actually, I was reading your partner's case file," he answered. "Quite interesting."

"What do you mean, exactly?"

"Well, I've been trying to work up a strategy, some way to help find Mulder. But I'm kind of thrown for a loop. I mean, where do we start searching? Mars? Shall we try to contact the little green men, Agent Scully?"

"Gray," she retorted. She turned on her heel and left the office. He was reassigned the following day.

Skinner had delegated her to desk duty as her pregnancy progressed. The paperwork that Mulder had ignored for years would be enough to sustain her until . . . well, it would be enough.

She kept in constant contact with the Gunmen, hoping they'd be able to come up with something. But every avenue would come up empty. There was no trace of Mulder. The baby nudged her groin. Well, no trace that would help find him, anyway.

Satisfied with what she saw in the mirror, Scully walked into the kitchen and headed straight for the refrigerator. Her stomach balked at the sight of the red and white milk carton inside. She was never big on the stuff, and she didn't feel like forcing down another glass. She pushed the carton aside and located the calcium-fortified OJ. Drinking from the carton was another habit she had cultivated in her pregnancy. It was quick, and best of all, no glass to rinse out. She polished off the carton in one huge gulp. Wiping her mouth on the back of her hand, she tossed the carton into the garbage can.

Walking over to the living room window, she peered out at the night sky. Was Mulder up there somewhere? Was he hurt, afraid, thinking of her? She shuddered, suddenly remembering the numbing cold of the alien ship. Was Mulder enclosed in ice? Was he lying on a cold steel table, being examined and violated as she had been?

She absently rubbed her tummy. Scully didn't want to have her child on her own. Why should it be deprived of its own father? She had always considered herself fiercely independent, but she also felt strongly that raising a child was a 2-person effort. Could she be both a mother and a father?

Scully sighed. With all the worrying and fetus nurturing, her energy was drained. But sleep wasn't an option. Not only was the little one practicing advanced aerobics, but her mind was wired. She felt like Mulder -- what he must have felt like searching for his sister. She could only hope that he would be returned. No, there was no room for simple hope. "He will come back," she whispered. "I'll find him."

"What do you say, Bud? Time for our medicine?"

The baby quieted for a moment, as if contemplating the question. Then giving its affirmation to the idea, kicked Scully in her ribs.

Forty-five minutes later, Scully was fumbling for her keys. Juggling the small brown bag to one hand, she dove deep into her warm winter coat pocket. Closing her hands around the metal of the keys, Scully fished them out. She quickly found the marked key and unlocked the door.

The room was pitch black. She had drawn the blinds the last time she was here. Scully flipped on the light switch as she kicked the door closed with one foot. She put down her bag of provisions for the night and started to unload them. Two small cartons of orange juice, a bran muffin, and a container of yogurt. She never kept anything here, she always brought from home what she'd need for the night-- maybe to remind herself that she'd have to leave. With her small stash put away, Scully removed her wool coat and scarf, and draped them on the coat rack.

Heat. The place needed heat. She walked over to the thermostat and raised the needle.

Toeing off her sneakers as she walked, Scully advanced to the bedroom and turned on the light. At first, when she came here, she would never turn on the bedroom light. But now that the baby was growing and she was getting clumsy, clear vision was a necessity.

Scully stared at the bed. She had not touched it since Mulder went missing. Looking at the crumpled white sheets and haphazard pillows, she felt cheated. His life was interrupted. He had so much to finish. She had left almost everything in his apartment exactly as he'd left it. Even his video collection. She had been somewhat reassured by the dust covering them, but they still bothered her. They reminded her of all the time they had spent apart. Wasted time. And now he was gone.

She rationalized at first that someone would have to feed his fish and check his messages, but when the landlord approached her five months ago and told her the rent was due, she simply wrote the man a check. Every month since, he received a check from Scully, no questions asked. The excuses she told herself were ever changing, from giving Mulder a place to come home to, to having a place to take the baby so it would know of its father.

But in the back of her mind, she knew the real reason. It comforted her to be in his space. His scent, his being, his life. Traces of him were everywhere.

Scully grabbed the blanket she had given Mulder several years ago and hurried from the bedroom. The minute she had seen the blanket at a gift shop in Maine, she knew she had to buy it for him. It had a tree on it, and instead of branches and leaves, it was full of stars reaching up to the heavens. A tree of stars. Somehow, it was very Mulder.

It was still fairly dark in the living room, with nothing but the fish tank and the light from the kitchen casting a soft glow to the room. She bent over the leather couch, arranging the pillows almost as if she were performing some kind of ritual. Reaching for the remote, Scully sank down into the green cushions and adjusted herself. Satisfied, she draped the blanket over her body and flipped on the TV. The baby's constant kicking and rolling lessened as Scully relaxed. "Isn't this better?" She gently rubbed her abdomen, while the movement on the TV screen caught her eye. Caddyshack. She smiled at the memory.

"Caddyshack, Mulder?"

"What? It's a classic American movie."

"Every guy says that. It's a guy movie."

"Well, next time you invite me to your place, we can watch Steel Magnolias."

With Mulder's words in her mind, his child inside her, and his material world surrounding her, Scully drifted to sleep.

The End

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