Title: Everything in its Place
Author: joelyjo
Rating: Strong R (sex and birth)

Summary: Scully is determined that the new baby will be born at home. Will it be peace and calm and everything in its place? Or will it be drama-filled all over again?

Author's Notes: Written for the Nursery Files Labour (Sorry, I can't bring myself to miss out the U) Day challenge, although it's a bit late because I'm a bit rubbish at deadlines. Any feedback is very welcome. I'm fairly new to the fandom on tumblr, if not to writing, and eager for anything, be it positive or negative! Thanks, all.

Tagging: @marinafrenzy and @today-in-fic


William came into the world like a storm. When Scully thinks back to that night in Democrat Hot Springs, all she remembers is the white-hot pain and the burn of anxiety. She'd never felt more alone in a room full of people. Never been so terrified.

This time, she is adamant. It will be a peaceful birth. It will be at home and she will have Mulder with her through every contraction and every push. She tells her doctor all this and he listens, calmly and patiently.

"It's lovely that you have such a clearly outlined birth plan, Dana. But you must remember that babies come when they are ready and things rarely go to plan. Be prepared for your plan to get shot all to hell." Scully sees Mulder looking from the doctor to her and back again and can read his thoughts like an open book. He does not fancy this doctor's chances at appealing to Scully's sense of reason and logic. "Mulder," she says, pre-empting his interjection. "You know this is what I want."

"Oh, I know it, Scully." He glances again at the doctor, their gazes conspiratorial. She knows they will speak when he can get her out of earshot. Well, let them plot, she thinks. She will have this baby at home and everything will be in its place.

Six weeks before her due date, she begins to nest. The house is cleaned from top to bottom. She gets down on her knees and scrubs things that haven't been scrubbed in decades, turns out cupboards and drawers, vacuums until she breaks the vacuum. Mulder tries to help, but most of the time his efforts end in him failing to meet her exacting standards and giving up before they come to blows over the right way to fold tiny onesies and stack diapers.

Her mood is alternately calm and zen then raging like a hurricane. She can't sleep properly, can't get comfortable in any position... and, just when she thinks things are at their nadir, they have a heatwave. July sun pounds down on the house and every room is hotter than hell. She curses Mulder for not fixing the AC and casts him from the house to find an engineer, but every engineer in the state is booked up for weeks. So instead she basks in front of a desk fan, takes to wandering the house in her underwear. Mulder stares and spends the week trying to hide a series of persistent erections. She is almost ready to climb into the refrigerator when the heat breaks in a massive thunderstorm that lasts most of the night.

In the morning, he brings her coffee and rye toast in bed and she feels like a different woman. She realises why when she stands naked before the bedroom mirror and sees that the baby has dropped. Mulder comes from behind her and wraps his arms around her, his big hands cupping the massive watermelon of her abdomen. "I can breathe again, Mulder," she tells him, almost dizzy with the rush of oxygen. He smiles and kisses her neck.

"Not long now," he murmurs and she smiles back at him. She is ready.

But nothing happens. Days pass and her due date approaches. Her bad mood returns and Mulder does his best to keep out of her way. Even that is not enough, though, and one day she follows him into work, waddling down to the basement to complain about the mess and try to take over his latest investigation. Skinner finds them arguing an hour later and nothing can hide the expression that passes across his face when his eyes fall on her swollen belly.

"Agent Scully, what are you doing here?" His voice is full of concern, but there's just enough chastisement to make her blood boil. She rounds on him.

"This is my office. I can be in it if I wish... sir."

Skinner glances at Mulder and the two men share a beleaguered look. Scully's fury mounts. She is standing behind the desk, her hands on her hips, and she knows she is more intimidating than an angry bull.

It takes them two hours to convince her to go home.

Two days later, the midwife comes to the house. Her name is Joy and she is a sweet, middle-aged Hispanic lady with amazing hair and a no-nonsense manner. She wastes no time at all in scoping out the house, sizing up where to place the birthing pool, the foetal monitor, the weighing scales, the gas cylinders. Scully is heartened by her professionalism and tells Mulder how pleased she is that they found the extra $500 for a nurse-midwife. "It's not that I'm expecting anything to go wrong," she tells Joy. "I'm a medical doctor myself and I've done this in somewhere with no electricity and no running water." She leaves out the bit about being surrounded by alien witnesses. Joy may appear no-nonsense, but that detail is likely to send her packing. "But I am glad you are going to be here."

"It's nice that you're happy and feel secure, Miss Scully," Joy replies. "But I want you to remember that birth is a funny old game. It happens when it happens and how it happens can be anybody's guess. Be prepared to find yourself back in the hospital because I won't allow anything to happen that puts you or your baby at risk." Mulder nods in the background.

That evening, they fire up the grill and Mulder cooks steak and spicy vegetable kebabs. Afterwards, they sit together on the porch swing in the gathering darkness and watch the night insects crowding around the lamps. Mulder cradles her belly, rubbing gentle circles over the taut skin and Scully finds herself softening with his touches. "I'm sorry if I've not been very easy to live with these last few weeks," she confesses.

Behind her, Mulder chuffs out a laugh. "I think I preferred being dead."

She scowls at him and bats his bicep with her hand. "I'm huge, my feet are so swollen I can barely get my shoes on, my whole body aches, I want to pee constantly, I can't get comfortable, I can't sleep but I'm so tired. It's enough to put anyone in a bad mood."

"Yeah," says Mulder ruefully. "I guess I never thought about it before. I didn't really pay attention last time – there were other things on my mind."

"I know."

She twists and leans up to kiss him. He is warm and there is the lingering taste of spices on his breath. "I love you," she says against his mouth. He doesn't reply, but he takes her face in his hands and kisses her thoroughly and she hears him anyway.

Three days later, she wakes with backache and an odd feeling in her abdomen. It's not pain, as such, but a kind of tightness. She goes to the calendar and crosses off the previous day, a habit she got into around 30 weeks and mulls the sensation over. Her due date is tomorrow. The day after Labor Day. She can't remember clearly feeling anything similar before, but then, she muses, everything happened so fast towards the end that, like Mulder, she didn't notice much of anything with any focus.

She showers and dresses while he goes out for a run, setting some coffee to brew when she thinks he's been gone about his usual time. Taking her own mug of green tea out onto the porch, she unfolds one of the loungers and is dozing in the sunshine when he bounds up the porch steps, sweaty and breathing hard. He greets her with a kiss and a cheerful, "Enjoying the holiday weekend, Scully?" She opens one eye and regards him critically. "Ugh. Go shower and then we'll talk. There's coffee in the pot."

He nods, grins and withdraws upstairs. A moment later she hears the water start in the bathroom, then some time later, he returns in chino shorts and a tank, hair wet and with the scent of shower gel on his skin. He hoists himself up and perches on the porch rail with the kind of nimbleness that makes Scully ache with jealousy. Sitting there with his tanned, muscular limbs on show he looks all of twenty-five instead of fifty-something. "It's Labor Day, the weather's great," he says. "What shall we do?"

"Have a baby?" she suggests.

"Well, yeah, there is that," he agrees with a grin. "But what if baby's not playing ball?"

Scully sighs. She is done with being pregnant, done to the point that any activity other than giving birth seems an unattractive option.

"I know you're sick of this, Scully," he says.

She makes a face. "No kidding, Mulder."

"Yeah... No kidding. But is it better to be sick of it stuck indoors sniping at each other or sick of it outside in the sunshine with a chance of being distracted?"

Considering his suggestion, she thinks that she could quite easily hunker down here on the lounger for the rest of the day, but she can see the look in his eyes and knows that if she chooses that, he might just go anyway, without her, and that she absolutely does not want. "Okay," she agrees.

"A walk and an ice-cream at Burke Lake?"

The idea surprises her with how good it sounds. "Yeah... Okay. You're going to have to help me tie my shoes though."

The lake is glorious in the early September sunshine and after she manoeuvres herself out of the car, she has to stand a moment, flexing the muscles in her back and admiring the expanse of twinkling water. Scully wonders briefly why he chose here, of all the places he could've picked, but can't put her finger on a reason why. The place is sort of familiar and she figures she must have visited before with her family or maybe with Daniel or Jack – it's the kind of place you might come with a romantic partner. He comes to stand behind her and looks out at the lake too. "Gorgeous, isn't it?" She nods. "You up for a short walk, then?" There are other people here, but it is not as busy as she imagined it would be, so they set off on one of the flat, easy trails along the lakeside. She feels huge and ungainly and walks so slowly she is sure Mulder must be frustrated, but he seems content to fall into pace beside her. She reaches for his hand and he takes it, interlocking their fingers and then smiling down at her, his eyes obscured by sunglasses. "Okay?" he asks.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

They walk for a mile or so, then she has to stop. Her back is still aching and although she had thought the exercise might have helped it, it doesn't seem to have had that effect. She perches on a boulder and rolls her shoulders, stretching herself out. Mulder leaves her alone and jogs down to edge of the river to skim stones across the gently lapping surface. "Hey," she shouts after a few moments. "You promised me ice-cream!" He turns and grins up at her. "I sure did, Scully. You want to head back?"

"I want ice-cream."

On the way back to the car, Scully spots a picnic area and a kiosk selling snacks and ice cream and instructs Mulder to make good on his offer. While he goes to fulfil his duty, she wanders vaguely amongst the empty wooden tables then beyond through the parkland. She finds a shady spot beneath a tree and eases herself down onto the grass, feeling a little like a camel trying to get its awkward limbs folded in just the right way. Mulder returns with two enormous cones of ice-cream drizzled in strawberry sauce and drops down beside her. They sit and eat in silence for a while, then Mulder pauses and frowns. "You are sure about this home birth thing, aren't you?" She blinks and turns to him. She had guessed this was coming, in fact, she's surprised he hasn't said something already. It's felt like he's been holding back since Joy visited. "It's just... If I'd had to place a bet on where you'd want to have this baby, it wouldn't have been our lounge." She is half a breath away from snapping at him, tired and defensive as she is, then stops herself. Instead, she takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "Mulder, when William was born, I was surrounded by aliens, in a place I'd never seen before, with nobody I loved nearby. It was the most frightening experience of my life." Mulder's face is still, but his eyes are locked on hers. "I don't know why I've been given this second chance, why we've been given this, but I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that things are as far removed from that first experience as I can make them. So I don't want a roomful of people, and a strange hospital suite. I want home..." She reaches out to take his hand in hers. "And us."

"Even if it's dangerous?"

"There's no reason to think that it will be dangerous," she assures. "I'm fit and healthy, all the scans have shown the baby is fit and healthy too. We have Joy. We're not hundreds of miles from civilisation with an alien threat hanging over us. I've done this before." He stares at her for a long time, then starts to nod. She smiles as she realises he is acquiescing to her wishes and squeezes his hand. He returns the gesture and then places his hand on her belly, palm flat, and holds it there. Scully watches him, remembering another time when he touched her in the same way, when she lay in a hospital bed and neither of them was sure about anything. "Home," he says, and his voice is rough with emotion. "Us." He leans in to kiss her, softly at first, then with a growing passion.

Breaking away, she looks around them. It is quiet but still a public place, and she can hear the distant sounds of children whooping and yelling down by the lake, the hum of a motorboat. The sun glints off faraway car windows. She hunkers closer to him and presses her mouth to his neck. "You know," she murmurs against his skin, "they say that one of the most reliable ways to bring on labour is to have sex." Mulder pulls back and regards her amusedly. "Here?" She arches her brows. "My, my, Dana Scully, what has got into you? I'm not objecting, but..." Her hand closes around his crotch and his breathing hitches. "But... wow. You must really be sick of this."

"You have no idea, Mulder," she tells him and kisses him again. Desperation has made her bolder than she's ever been and right now, she couldn't care less if her priest spotted her across the parking lot.

"I'll warn you now, Scully, I've had several fantasies about this."

He bites her lip and watches, looking somewhat punch-drunk, as she straddles him, the fabric of her dress stretching and rucking up so her knees are revealed. "Tell me about them," she commands, and grinds down on him. Mulder's answering groan is like fire coursing in her blood. Sex has been the last thing on her mind for months but suddenly she is consumed with aching desire. She wants him and she wants him bad.

Mulder rubs his hands up and down her thighs. "You really want to know?"

"I do," she replies. She is rocking herself against his leg now, and she can see him through his shorts, hard like a bar. Her hands are on his button. It is crazy that she's contemplating fucking him right here, in a public park, but her entire body seems to be humming with need for him.

"I'll be honest, Scully," he says, breaking her train of thought. "Doing it outside hasn't been in that many fantasies of mine. But..." He glances around them, listening dog-like a moment. "Making love to you somewhere where we might get caught... Now we're talking. That one has always been high on my list." She's hot now and can feel herself throbbing with eagerness. She slides his zipper down and reaches in to feel him, stroking hard from root to tip. His eyes flutter closed a moment. "Have we ever been caught?" she asks. "In these fantasies of yours?" He lifts himself and she undresses him so that he's free. A moment later and her hand is on his cock, skin to skin, and she revels in the way his face changes. She is pretty sure she could ask him to deny that aliens exist in this moment and he'd lurch to his feet and shout it as loud as his lungs could make him.

"I did once imagine that Skinner caught us," he says, his words made breathless by what she's doing to him. "But all I could see after that was his face and it kind of ruined it for me. So, no, let's say not." He thrusts into her hand. "Is there anybody about?"

"Not a soul," she tells him with a smile and eases up his body. His hands reach and pull aside her panties so he can push inside her. "Now shut up and fuck me, Mulder."

And he does.

Later, they lie curled up together in the haze of orgasmic bliss, alternately kissing and dozing. He strokes her belly and teases for more until she has to push him away because her back is driving her mad now. He pouts a little, but relents and uses the rejection to rise to his feet, button himself back up and stretch. "Why here, Mulder?" she asks him as he holds out his hand and pulls her to standing. "It's lovely, but there were lots of other places we could have gone – fireworks displays, outdoor parties, concerts..." They start to walk back towards his car.

"You don't remember, Scully?"

"Remember what?"

"Long time ago... eighteen years ago, actually. I came here on a lead. There'd been a bigfoot sighting in the woods on the other side of the lake – it was a load of bull, but it was something to do on a Saturday afternoon. And you called me and we talked about stuff. We made arrangements to go for dinner that evening." He looks down at her, his smile years away and drifting on the recollections of memory. "And when we finished up talking, just before you hung up, you told me you loved me." She can't help the grin that breaks on her face. "So I've never even been here before?"

"Well, no, I guess not."

A laugh burbles out of her. Mulder looks wounded.

"It's not that funny. It's a special place to me."

"Oh Mulder," she giggles, "that is so perfectly you."

"The hazards of a eidetic memory..." He holds out his hand and she takes it. "Come on, let's go home. We can pick up a pizza on the way back."

They take a detour into DC to get her favourite pizza and while they're waiting for their order, watch as a fireworks display over the Potomac kicks off. He suggests taking the pizza and going to listen to the National Symphony Orchestra on the West Lawn but she's been before and so has he and all she really wants now is to get home, take off her too-tight sneakers, put on her pyjamas and feast on garlic stuffed crust double pepperoni and mushroom pizza.

So he takes her home and juggles the pizza in one hand as he offers the other to her to help her out of the car. The light is failing now and after he dumps the pizza on the coffee table, he goes around flicking lamps on while she climbs wearily upstairs to dress for bed.

She's at the top of the stairs in her pyjamas when she feels a popping sensation in her abdomen and seconds later, fluid pours down her legs and onto the floor. Scully starts and takes a step backwards, gasping involuntarily as she observes the puddle she is now standing in. "Mulder!" she shouts.

"Yeah?" he calls back from the kitchen.

"I need some help here."

He appears at the bottom of the stairs, beer bottle in hand and frowns up at her. "What's the matter?"

"Um... I need a cloth, I think." She looks down at the pool on the floor. She feels a bit dislocated, like she's hovering above her body and watching rather than actually being here.

"Oh," he says, realising. "Okay, um. Yeah."

Mulder makes a move to go up the stairs, then seems to remember he has a beer bottle in his hand and goes back down, darts into the kitchen and returns with a roll of kitchen towel. Working with an obvious sense of panic, he mops up the pool of fluid then looks up at her. "Are you okay?"

"Mm... Yeah?" She frowns as her abdomen tightens in a clear and obvious contraction. "Ohhh, I think this is it, Mulder."

"Yeah, yeah, of course it is. I, er... I'll call Joy. Can you get downstairs okay?"

She nods and, gripping the bannister, she descends slowly. Another contraction hits as she takes the final step and she balks, groaning. Things are happening faster than before, she thinks. That was just about thirty seconds between contractions. She's about to open her mouth and explain this to Mulder, when he appears in front of her, pale-faced. "Scully, I'm making my panic face. Joy's not answering. Her phone is going to answer machine. I've, I've left a message, but I don't know what else to do. Do you want me to call an ambulance?"

"No!" she barks and Mulder flinches. She does not want an ambulance, because ambulances take you to only one place, the ER, and there is no way she is having this baby on a gurney in the ER. "No," she repeats, steadier. "Keep trying Joy. She's maybe out at some kind of party and can't hear her phone." Drawing in a deep breath and feeling her uterus relax, she adds, "We've got time. This isn't happening right away." Mulder nods. He looks a little lost, which strikes her as vaguely amusing. A man who has faced mutants and alien bounty hunters and serial killers is overcome by the prospect of the birth of his own child. She reaches out a hand and pats his arm in what she hopes is a comforting gesture. "It's going to be fine, Mulder. We got this."

"Hm, yeah, you got this, Scully. Me? I'm not so sure. I've never delivered a baby before."

"You won't have to. Joy will answer her phone soon."

Her belly tightens again and this time she has to close her eyes with the strength of it. How long was that apart, she thinks. "Mulder, you've got to time the contractions. I need to know how far apart they are."

"Okay. Okay, I can do that." He pulls up his sleeve and glances at his watch.

"And we need to fill the pool with water."

Thirty minutes later and the pool is inflated and filling with water. Mulder, happy to have some distraction to keep him busy, is standing over it in a slightly proprietorial manner, watching the water rising up the sides. "You going straight in, Scully?" he asks, turning to see her in the grip of another contraction. She nods, breathing too hard to reply. She's been walking about the lounge and kitchen, stopping only when contractions hit. Sweat is pearling on her brow and she reaches up a hand to wipe it away. She's naked but for one of his t-shirts, her hair scraped back in a scruffy ponytail. It's undignified, for sure, but right now, she couldn't care less.

She climbs over the side of the pool and sinks down in the water, the t-shirt darkening. It's warm and soothing and when the next contraction grips her, it feels a little less like she's being held by a vice. "Have you tried Joy again?" she asks.

"Still the same."

Scully closes her eyes and wills calm to embrace her. It's all right, everything is fine, she can do this. Mulder can do this. She does her best not to see the anxiety behind his eyes. "We need to think of what to do if she doesn't answer." Mulder takes a deep breath. "It's pretty clear what needs to be done, isn't it? Either I help you, or we call an ambulance. And since you seem quite against the latter option, I guess it's you and me, Scully." She hums her way through another contraction, shifting position in the pool. "It's not going to be long, Mulder."

And it isn't.

Forty minutes later, the contractions are unrelenting and she's feeling an intense need to push; Mulder is behind her, hands on her shoulders, his voice in her ear, coaxing, urging, breathing with her.

It's coming.

She can feel it in her very centre.

She shouts his name, gets up on her knees and holds his arms, vice-like, desperate. He's still as a rock. She leans forward, presses her forehead to his, breathes his air. "Push, Scully," he tells her. "Come on, you're doing this. Push." Behind them, the door clicks and in walks Joy, but neither of them notice. With one last, tremendous effort, the baby is born and Scully looks down to see the water blooming pink and twists around. Joy lifts the tiny body from the water and the air is instantly filled with that beautiful sound of a newborn cry. "Here you go, Mama, take your baby." Scully brings the squawking, bluish child to her chest and laughs deliriously, her eyes filling with sudden tears. "Oh my God, Mulder, look..."

She looks up at him and the wonder on his face is worth every hardship she's ever endured. "She's beautiful," he whispers. He kisses the top of her head, then with his thumb, strokes the wet, dark hair on the baby's forehead.

"What you going to call her?" Joy asks from the side-lines.

Their eyes lock. "Ellen," replies Mulder. "Ellen Margaret."

"Ellen Margaret Mulder," Joy repeats. "Born on Labor Day 2018."

"Kid's already got a sense of the apt."

"I'm so sorry I wasn't here earlier," explains Joy, reaching into her bag. "I was at the concert on the West Lawn. It was just by chance that I checked my phone and realised I'd put the ringer on silent. What an ass I am!" She stands with hands on hips beside the pool, smiling down at them. "But look at the three of you! What a bit of teamwork! You going to cut the cord, Dad? Then you can hold her if you like, while I sort Mom out." Mulder looks at Scully and smiles. "Yeah," he says. "I'd like that." She can tell he's nervous and that he's thinking back to that time in her apartment all those years ago, when he first held William, only to have to run and leave him mere days later. For his sake, she wants him to hold this child and never have to let go. She wants it too, but for Mulder, even more.

Joy clamps the cord, waits a moment, then instructs him to cut. "There we go," she says. "Good job, guys. You're an independent being now, Miss Ellen. You go on to your Daddy now while we get your Mama all cleaned up."

Leaning down and taking the naked baby, Mulder wraps her in a soft muslin blanket. He cuddles her into his body and Scully thinks that her heart might explode from the look on his face. She's seen this scene in her head over and over, in a thousand dreams and daytime fantasies. Sometimes the baby is William, other times she's been unsure whether the baby is even hers. But every time, it's been the smile on his lips that has remained with her, long after the rest of the vision has gone. And so she watches, and takes it all in... the silence in the room, the tick of the ancient clock in Mulder's study, the creak of the floors as he waltzes aimlessly about the lounge, the softness of the light and the gentle sounds of a newborn baby, the murmur of his voice as he breathes words of love in her tiny ear, and as she watches, the undimming smile on Mulder's face.

The End

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