Title: An Unexpected Surprise
Summary: *I can't breathe.* As he looked into her glistening eyes, the only thought was, *I can't breathe.*
One week before Christmas...
Mulder shivered as he drew the collar of his leather jacket up close around his neck and gingerly stepped through the ice and snow to the glass doors which would lead him to the warmth he desperately needed at the moment. He glanced back and shook his head as the snow that had plagued D.C. for the fourth day running kept falling. He opened the door before him, stepped inside and was instantly warmed by the central heating and the sea of people searching for the perfect Christmas gift.
His eyes scanned the crowd with amusement at the hustle and bustle of so many. Mothers with frowns and exhaustion etched across their faces as they tugged screaming toddlers behind them. Couples holding hands with looks of wonder and excitement the season had to offer. The music that filtered in from above seemed to lend an air of magic to the little ones who, with their noses pressed to the window panes, stared at the many treasures they hoped would magically appear Christmas morning under the grand tree.
Mulder smiled. He couldn't believe he was actually looking forward to shopping. Like any other human male on this planet, he went in, got what he needed and was out in a matter of minutes. No browsing, seeking, or searching. Just grab and run.
Shaking his head, he ventured into the fray on a mission borne of determination and hope.
Three days earlier...
Mulder looked at his watch for the fifth time. He glanced at Scully when she sighed, closed another file and tossed it to the side. He wondered what was bothering her this time. He could probably venture a guess, but he had much rather her tell him than embarrass himself, or her, coming to the wrong conclusion, again.
She looked up as the phone rang and quickly snatched up the receiver.
"Scully. Hi, mom." Mulder couldn't help but worry when her face paled. "No. I told you last week. No, nothing's changed. I know, mom, but I just can't this time. Please, mom, not now."
Mulder tried to pretend he wasn't listening, but his curiosity and overwhelming concern for his partner overrode any common sense he might have had before she answered the phone. He watched her carefully: saw the small lines form on her forehead, her face pale and the down turn of her lips as she listened to the caller. It was all he could do to sit passively by and watch the myriad of emotions flitting across her face. When the single tear escaped her closed eyes he couldn't sit by any longer.
Mulder quietly rose from his chair and made it around his desk before her eyes opened wide and she shook her head.
"Mom, I know you want me to go and I know Bill is expecting me there, but I just can't. Please. I just can't. All right. We'll talk later. I love you, too."
Mulder didn't move as she hung up the phone and closed her eyes. He slowly walked to her side and knelt beside her. Scully bowed her head as another tear followed the one before. Mulder gingerly pulled her into his arms and palmed the back of her head, holding her to his chest. Glancing at the door, he took a shaky breath, praying that no one would venture in.
"Scully, talk to me. Please," he whispered in her ear.
He felt her body shake and then her arms wound around his waist. She turned her face into his neck and he could feel the dampness of her cheeks as she softly kissed him.
"Scully, let's close up and head home. There's nothing else that needs to be done. It's almost five and Skinner's in a meeting. No one will care if we leave a little early. How about it, partner?"
Mulder pulled back enough to caress her cheek with the back of his fingers and then pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. With a smile, he pulled a hankerchief from his back pocket and gently wiped the tears away. She sniffled and then nodded her head.
"Okay? Come on, let's go." He stood and pulled her to her feet and placed a kiss on her cheek before turning and retrieving his jacket and briefcase.
With his hand on the small of her back, he led her out, turned and locked the door.
* * *
Mulder busied himself in the kitchen as Scully retreated to her bathroom. Placing the kettle on the stove and then pulling out a couple of mugs and bags of tea, he went about his task with familiarity.
Waiting for the water to boil, he leaned against the counter and stared at the two cups, then closed his eyes. He knew if he was still long enough all his senses could detect every nuance that was Scully. Here, he felt warm and safe. He felt at home. Yes, he had a place. A place that held too many ghosts - memories, good and bad. A cold, dark place that never seemed to hold the warmth he craved. A lonely place he could never call home. A place, he had come to realize, he only visited. A place he couldn't stay in for too long.
He smiled as his senses detected a presence. He could hear the whisper of silk, smell the light scent of lavender, feel the touch of a soft, gentle hand on his face. He opened his eyes, could see the light of love and taste the honey she offered with a kiss.
He pulled her closer, craving the warmth and love only she could provide.
Scully stood in front of the bare tree and sighed. When they brought in the tree two days ago, her intentions were to have it decorated by now. But, she had been so tired by the end of the work day and the bouts of nausea had left her with little or no energy to deal with digging out the boxes of lights and ornaments. And then, there was the task of finding another angel to adorn the top of the tree. She wasn't sure she wanted to replace it yet.
Sadly, she remembered taking the small angel that had been a light and comfort to her to the cemetery and placing it upon Emily's grave. There, she said a prayer that the angel would watch over her daughter. There, she shed the tears that she would not allow anyone else to see. There, she left a piece of her heart.
Scully inhaled the scent of pine and wiped a solitary tear from her cheek. Two strong arms encircled her with the warmth and love she had come to depend upon. She leaned her head back against his chest and felt his lips caress her cheek. She closed her eyes and whispered softly.
"Mulder, we need to talk."
She turned in his arms and looked up into his eyes. Her hand shook as she reached up and tenderly tried to stroke the frown from his brow. He nodded, led her to the couch and there they sat, her cradled in his arms. He pulled the afghan from the back of the sofa and covered her when her body trembled against his.
"Scully, what's wrong?" he asked with a sigh. "I know you haven't been feeling well for a while. Your appetite is practically nonexistent and you don't seem to have enough energy to make it through the day. Please, tell me. I need to know. Is it...?"
She shook her head as his arms tightened around her.
"Please, talk to me Scully. I'm not sure what or how to feel right now."
"Mulder. It's not the cancer." She tilted her head up and look into his eyes. "I've been to the doctor and she tells me that there are no signs of the cancer. But ... there is something else. I'm just not sure how to tell you."
"Scully, you're scaring me now. Please, just tell me what's wrong."
She felt his body shudder as she pulled out of his embrace and turned to face him. The fear that appeared in his eyes broke her heart. She grabbed his hands, gently stroked them to soothe and calm his trembling fingers.
All the pent-up angst and worry were released with a shaky breath.
"Mulder, we've never talked about what happened after the IVF didn't work. But, I need to know now what you were feeling and thinking. I ... I need to know if you really wanted it as much as I did."
"Oh, Scully," he whispered as he pulled her into his arms. "I won't lie to you, I was scared to death. Scared of the possibilities. I was afraid ... that it would come between us ... our work ... our friendship. But, the more I thought about it ..." He paused and sighed. "I was happy and excited about those possibilities. Yes, it would come between us. Come between our work. Come between our friendship. But, Scully at the time I was thinking about all the negative possibilities. When I really sat down and thought about it, I began to realize that with all that we have been through over the past seven years, nothing and I mean, absolutely nothing, could come between us. I began to think about what it would be like to have another pair of blue eyes look at me with love. I wanted that little soul to depend on me to love and take care of him. God, Scully, I wanted it so bad, I ached."
"I'm sorry, Mulder." She murmured against his chest. Her shoulders began to shake and little sob escaped her lips.
"Please, Scully, please don't cry. We can try again if you want. Remember, I told you, don't give up on a miracle? I'll do anything, Scully. We can't give up."
"Mulder ..." she started as she pulled back and looked up at him with tears streaming down her cheek and a smile on her lips. "There's no need to try again. The doctor..."
Mulder interrupted her quickly, "I won't accept that, Scully. I know there has to be something we can try or do. I won't give up and I won't let you give up, either. I just..."
Scully reached up and placed her finger over his lips before he could finish. A glint in her eyes made him frown.
"Would you, please, hush for just a moment and let me finish for once?" He nodded, but his arms tightened around her waist. "I have to admit that when I wasn't feeling well, I began to have the same worries you have about my cancer coming back. I made an appointment with Kathy, a friend of mine from med school. I knew she would be discreet and I trusted her. When I told her the symptoms I was having, she knew my fears and ran several tests. Mulder, I was so scared. I wanted to call you and have you there with me, but I couldn't make myself do it. I let my head, instead of my heart, do the deciding. I didn't want to worry you. I knew your fears and I just couldn't put you through that if the tests came back positive. I could just pretend as if nothing was wrong."
"Scully, I want to be by your side, good or bad. I want to share your fears, worries and joys with you."
"I know, Mulder. And, I'm sorry now that I didn't call you, because ..." She paused and took in a shaky breath and exhaled slowly. "Because ... Oh God, Mulder I hope you will be as happy about this as I am."
"I'm pregnant. Kathy says I'm about two months along and ..." She stopped to take a breath when Mulder's arms tightened around her. She glanced up and saw the blank look on his face. Staring at something unknown and then his face softened into a smile. He looked down into her eyes and there she found her answer - her future.
"Scully?" he spoke with uncertainty.
Scully nodded as the tears welled up and threatened to spill down her cheeks.
*I can't breathe.* As he looked into her glistening eyes the only thought was, *I can't breathe.*
He gently pushed her away, quickly got to his feet and started pacing back and forth. He stopped and looked at her and saw the fear as her cheeks began to flame with ... what? Embarrassment? Anger? He doubled over, resting his hands on his knees. *I can't breathe.*
Scully lowered her head, clinched her hands in her lap and cried. Soft sobs of heartbreak finally penetrated his foggy brain. He raised his head, then moved to kneel before her, and gently placed his hand on her cheek.
"Scully? Pregnant? You're pregnant? We're going to have a baby? Oh. My. God. Scully, we're going to have a baby!" His last words but a whisper.
She took in a shuddering breath, slowly raised her eyes. "Mulder." she murmured against his palm. "Are you okay with this? I me ... mean ... if you're not ... I do ... don't know what ..."
"Oh, Scully, I'm so sorry." He pulled her into a fierce hug and gently rocked her as she cried. He pulled away slightly, cupped her cheeks with his hands and tried to wipe away the tears that continued to fall. "I'm so sorry. Scully? We're going to have a baby!" he exclaimed with wonder and delight. A beautiful smile graced his handsome face and then she smiled, too.
"Are you okay with this? I know we weren't expecting it after the IVF didn't ... and I don't know how or why I'm pregnant now. But, if you're not comfortable ..."
"Scully, listen to me. I'm more than comfortable about this. I'm ... I'm ... I don't know how to explain how I feel right this very minute, but I do know this, I love you, Scully with everything that is within me. I feel as though I'm the luckiest and the happiest man alive. Scully we're having a baby," he said, a beautiful expression gracing his face.
Scully's eyes glistened, she traced his lips with her fingertips and threw her arms around his neck. He turned his head and kissed her with all the emotion that was threatening to cause his heart to burst.
Later as they lay, his body spooned behind hers, they slept and dreamed of a future that they thought they would never experience. A future together, forever. And a little bundle of joy to take along for the ride of their lives.
One week before Christmas...
As he slowly made his way around the crowded mall, bags in hand, his heart was filled with joy and a smile on his face. He had a lot to be thankful for on this day. More than in recent years.
Mulder stopped, ordered an iced tea and luckily found a table in an obscure corner of the food court. He placed his packages carefully in the vacant chair next to him and sat back to watch the crowd that milled about and around him.
He noticed a little boy, about three he guessed, pulling the hand of a tall man. The father smiled down at his son and then picked him up and tossed him in the air, much to the delight of the little one. The father hugged his son to him and whispered something in his ear and the boy smiled and nodded. Father and son disappeared amongst the crowd, leaving Mulder with a strange feeling. A foreign feeling. A feeling he was not sure he could describe. He pulled out his phone and quickly pressed the number one.
"Hello," she panted in the phone after the fifth ring. A smile graced her lips when she heard his voice.
"Hey, it's me. Scully, are you okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Really. I was in the bedroom pulling out the decorations for the tree."
"Scully, don't. Leave it until I get home. I'll get them."
"Mulder, I'm perfectly capable of getting them myself. Is this what I'm gonna have to put up with for the next six months? You hovering, not letting me do anything for myself?"
There was silence for a moment and then a chuckle. "Well, yeah. I guess so. You might as well get used to it. I can't help it, Scully, you know how I can be. Why are you so surprised now?"
"I'm not, Mulder. And yes, I do know how you are. But, I love you anyway."
Another soft rumble of his laughter filtered through the line and warmed her heart. "I love you, too. Be home as soon as I can."
Scully hummed a happy little tune as she made her way back to the bedroom to retrieve the boxes of decorations, leaving the heaviest and the one that was pushed back in the top of her closet for Mulder to handle. "That should make him happy." She giggled and headed for the living room to start decorating the tree.
At a quarter past three, with heavily-laden bags hanging from his arms and hands, he finally opened the door. Slowly he entered the living room and smiled. He stood for a moment to stare at the serene scene before him, then took the packages to the spare room and returned to kneel next to the couch. There she was asleep with strands of lights hanging from her hands. He reached up and brushed the stray hair from Scully's brow. Mulder brushed her lips with his and smiled when she moaned softly, her eyes fluttering open.
She smiled at him and whispered, "Hi, you."
"Hey, you. You've been busy."
"Yeah, well, I thought I'd wait and let you pull the other two boxes out of the closet and then hang the lights. Then we can finish up if we're up to it."
He snorted, kissed her again and then stood up. "Looks like you need to rest a little longer. Stay right there and I'll take care of the boxes and lights."
"'kay," she sleepily murmured as he disappeared into the bedroom.
Two glasses of tea, three hours later and after much laughter, the tree was decorated and lit. The couple cuddling on the couch looked on with tired eyes, but warm hearts.
"I have a something for you." Mulder reached beside the couch and pulled a box up onto Scully's lap. "I hope you don't mind that I bought it. But, I noticed you didn't have one," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
Her eyebrow arched as he placed the box in her lap. "Mulder?"
"Just open it, Scully."
She lifted the lid, peeled the tissue paper back and then gasped. "Oh, Mulder. It's beautiful."
"When I saw her, I just couldn't resist. She reminded me of you."
With a little hitch in her voice, she softly said, "Yes, I love it. Thank you."
Scully held the angel carefully in her trembling hands. The dress was made of the softest silver lame fabric, her wings of white feathers and her delicate porcelain face was framed with red shimmering hair.
Mulder ran his hand up and down her arm as she gazed at the angel. Then he shifted against her and whispered in her ear.
"Scully, I know about the angel. I'm sure Emily is very pleased."
Scully gasped and looked into his teary eyes. "How ... how did you know, Mulder?"
"Umm ... Scully, please don't be mad at me, but the day you took off after the last case we had, I was worried about you. You were so distant. So, I followed you and to be honest, I really wasn't surprised to find you at the cemetery kneeling at Emily's grave. However, I was hurt because you didn't ask me to go with you. I would have, you know."
Feeling ashamed she wrapped her arm around his waist and snuggled into his chest. The angel was carefully balanced on her lap.
"I know. Forgive me, for being so selfish? I guess I never really considered your feelings during that time. Did I?" she inquired softly, sniffling against his chest.
"Hey, hey. I was hurt at the time, but I did understand. I know you, Scully. You had to deal with the grief in your own time and your own way. I didn't want to intrude on that time. But, it didn't stop me from worrying about you."
"I know, Mulder and I do love you for caring so much. I worry about you, too, you know."
"I know. What do you say we put this little angel on the tree. Start new memories with our own little angel. Oh and I got this too. His and our first christmas angel ornament."
Scully held the ornament in her hand and got up from the sofa. She gently hung the tiny angel on the tree and then turned to Mulder.
"Will you put her on the top?"
Mulder stood beside her with a smile and love in his eyes. He gently took the angel from Scully's hand and placed it on the tree. They entwined their arms around each other, her running her hands up and down his back and he gently stroking her stomach.
"I love you, Scully."
"I love you, Mulder."
Christmas morning at Scully's apartment...
The angel blinked once and then twice before shining brightly atop of the unlit tree. A small cloud of stardust stood before the tree, her red hair shining. She smiled at the angel and then turned and walked to the open door of the bedroom. As she peeked inside, she closed her eyes and then blew a kiss to the the couple that was fast asleep, unaware.
"Merry Christmas. I love you, Mommy and Daddy," Emily whispered.
In the bed, cuddled together, they both shifted closer together. Then they smiled.
Author end notes: Maybe, maybe not. We'll see. Feedback would be cherished. Flames will be used to roast the marshmallows I'm saving for this special occasion.