Title: Planting My Feet
Author: Rachel Wilder
Written: September 2001

Summary: After his return, Mulder finds himself unsure of his place in Scully's life...and everywhere else.

Notes: Many thanks to my great betas, DS, Michelle Kieffer and Jamie. Thanks to Gerry for all the other times...

Before I even opened my eyes, I could sense her there. Her soft little hand was slipped in mine. As I slowly became aware, I mustered my strength and squeezed lightly. I heard her suck in her breath in response.

"Mulder?" she asks quietly.

I manage to open one eye. It's hard, a great weight has been pressing on me and I'm so tired.

"Hi," she says, smiling at me.

Before I realize what I'm doing, the words slip from my mouth. "Who are you?"

I can see that she's crushed. It was not the time to joke. I smile at her, alleviating her greatest fears.

We talk for a moment, but I can feel already that I'm slipping away. The weariness is rushing over me like the surf.

"Just sleep, Mulder," she says, her hand again in mine. "We can always talk later."

Sarcasm has always been my back-up weapon. I like to think that I started to use it to deal with the sadness in my family after Sam's disappearance, but the truth is, I've used it for years to deflect people's attempts to reach out to me. I want to stop doing it, but after thirty-nine years, how do you change a major personality element?

What I can't believe is that once again I'm using it to hold Scully at arm's length. She's one of the few people I feel like I've really been able to open up to, but now everything is so confusing that I've resorted to old tricks again.

"Who are you?"

I was gone for god knows how long, had unspeakable things done to me, put her through hell and what do I do, first chance I get...I mock her. In retrospect, it's probably a good thing I didn't lay a big zombie breath smooch on her...

Stop. Sarcasm, again.

I need to be honest with myself. I need to be honest with her. The fact is, I'm scared. Very, very scared.

Waking up in that hospital bed I had a sense that something was wrong, something was different. I've regained consciousness to the sound of a heart monitor enough times to almost find it comforting, but this was a completely different experience. My skin didn't feel like it belonged to me. It wasn't like the time in Bermuda when I was wet to my inner core, it wasn't like the time in Alaska when I was practically an ice cube, it wasn't even like the time with the tobacco beetles, no, this was a completely different sensation. I felt like I had been dead.

When I woke up the second time, she was still sitting by my bedside, but now I could watch her. Her head was slumped to the right, her face relaxed as she slept. I slid my eyes across her face, wincing inwardly as I noticed the new lines that creased her face. Without understanding what had happened to me, I knew that it was my actions that had put those lines there.

My eyes dropped further, over her swelling breasts to...her swelling belly. Unconsciously I drew my breath in. She was pregnant. The evidence was everywhere. Her breasts were fuller, her face a little bit, her ankles definitely were. She was obviously very far along.

My god...what had happened to me? To her? How fucking long had I been gone?


My eyes moved up to meet her gaze. I felt like a child caught with my hand in the candy jar. Her hand slipped down to nervously touch her abdomen.

I tried to sit up, but the blood rushed to my head.

"No, be careful," she admonished, getting out of her chair to stand next to my bed. "It's going to take a while, Mulder. You're going to need to be patient. You've been through a great deal."

What have I been through? I want to scream it at her, except I'm afraid she would shatter into a million pieces if I did. Nobody is telling me anything. I know that I'm at the Naval hospital in Annapolis. I know that I've been gone for an indeterminate amount of time. The last real memory I have is walking in the forest with Skinner. After that there are images, pictures that I don't want to recall, but no real memories.

I know that I should ask about her pregnancy. I can see in her face that she's bracing to tell me something about it, but I can't bring myself to do it. I fear the truth she may tell me.

"Mulder...you should know that something happened while you were gone..." she begins.

I don't want to hear this, I can't bear the thought that something else has happened to her...been done to her.

"Mulder...we...we thought you were dead. You were dead. For three months."

Okay, that was NOT what I expected to hear. I thought it might go along the lines of, I found someone else to inseminate me, or you were dropped here with no discernable pulse or even, "I'm with Skinner now," but never in a million years did I think she would tell me that I had been dead. For months. In a coffin.

"Mulder," she reaches for me, trying to pull me back to reality.

"I just need a while, Scully," I respond. I cannot deal with this now.

I watch as she turns, slightly dejected. I know I've hurt her, but I can't deal with her stuff right now. I can only focus on me.

I decide to do a little personal inventory. Scully says I was in the ground for months. That can't be good for the complexion. I call the nurse and have her bring me a mirror. She's reluctant, but I'm not taking no for an answer.

She hands me the mirror and steps back. Shit. I thought Scully looked bad when they brought her back, but I look dead. I reach up to touch the wounds on my face. I had the nightmares, with the pinchers coming to pull my skin, but now I know that it wasn't my over active imagination, but rather a little touch of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Can you untie this gown?" I ask the nurse. She steps from the corner of the room she's retreated to and helps me pull the gown down. I run my fingers along the long scar on my chest. It's raised and ugly, like they've cut me from stem to stern. I touch my stomach. Strangely enough, it seems to be bloated. Three months in the ground, I would have expected to be skin and bones.

My recovery, or rather return, must have made an impact on the staff here. Everyone is treating me with a great deal of respect...and distance. I have the sense that I may smell. When I ask the nurse about getting up for a shower, she said that they all were looking forward to my reaching that level of independence. I'm not the only one with the sarcastic nature around here.

As Scully drives me home, I wonder what will greet me there. I guess I should feel lucky I didn't take the time to write a will, since my convoluted probate must be the only thing that has kept her from getting rid of my belongings and finally terminating the lease at Hegel Place once and for all. I didn't really intend to leave her this kind of mess, especially after she asked me about the baby. I had planned to leave it all to her -- to her and her baby. Instead I had given her a headache that had not abated for three months...along with the heartache.

I haven't brought it up, but the stress lines on her face are so much deeper. I'm intensely curious about the time I've been gone, but I'm also so afraid of what I've missed. I want to ask her about the baby, but I don't want to hear that it's the result of some sort of unintended intervention.

The months we were trying the in vitro were so wonderful in some ways and so painful in others. Scully was still very private about it. I went with her the second time she had the procedure done, but then she didn't ask me to go again the last two times. She never asked me to go the doctor's office to find out if it had worked. Each time I would wait in her apartment, only to have her come back, her face covered with dried tears.

The first two times she was so brave, telling me we'd just have to try again and she owed me a subscription to Penthouse. The third time I made the mistake of making dinner. It was so painful sitting over the plates of spaghetti, both of our hearts breaking as we realized the chances for success were waning.

The last time was the worst. She wept in my arms, nearly inconsolable. It was like losing Emily all over again. I had no idea what to say.

I still have no idea what to say.

" Must feel good to be home," Scully says as we enter my apartment. The place looks strange. I watch as she carries my duffel bag into my bedroom. I feel so out of it. I watch this very pregnant woman taking care of me and know it should be the other way around, but do I do anything about it? No.

"Something looks different," I say, again looking around the living room.

" It's clean," Scully answers, smiling at me.

I laugh. Oh god, I wish she would just leave so I could just lay down on the couch and watch some TV. I didn't say that out loud, did I?

" Ah... that's it," I finally answer. To break the tension, I turn to the fish tank. "Missing a molly."

"Yeah. She wasn't as lucky as you. "

I sit down on my desk and look at her. God, she's so beautiful. It's true, women do glow when they're pregnant.

" Mulder... I don't know if you'll ever understand what it was like. First learning of your abduction... and then searching for you and finding you dead. And now to have you back and, uh..."

" Well, you act like you're surprised." Shit...sarcasm again. She's not laughing. I drop my eyes away, again appearing to do inventory on the fish tank.

"I prayed a lot. And my prayers have been answered."

My eyes now trail over to her stomach. They have been answered. In the most unbelievable fashion.

"In more ways than one," I say.

"Yeah," she answers, her eyes following mine.

"I'm happy for you. I think I know... how much that means to you." I want to tell her how much it means to me, but I just don't know if I can. I really can't talk about this right now. Oh god, she looks like she's going to cry...


"I'm sorry. I don't mean to be cold or ungrateful. I just... I have no idea where I fit in. Right now. I just, uh... I'm having a little trouble... processing...everything."

She looks at me. I don't know what she expects from me right now, but she's devastated. I've hurt her again, even now when I'm trying harder than ever to do right by her.

"I...I'll be back tonight, with some groceries."

I try to tell her not to bother, that I can take care of myself, but she reminds me that my checking account has been closed, that my credit cards have all been cancelled. I haven't just been out of town on a case...I was declared dead and the road back from the dead is filled with bureaucratic struggles.

While I was waiting for Scully to return, I replayed our last days together in my mind. I had been so worried when we were in Oregon. It was clear that something was wrong with her, but as always, I assumed it was the cancer. I never dreamed that baby could have been causing her illness. It was just too much to hope for.

When we finally became intimate we talked about many dreams for the future, but we never talked about children. I knew there were a number of ways we could fulfill our dream of a family, but it was the one thing I feared bringing up with Scully. She was still too fragile, too damaged by the experience with Emily and more recently with the in vitro. I guess I also was afraid that she might realize how I had kept things from her, the truth about her infertility, the truth about her ova and use that against me. I was always waiting for the other baby shoe to drop.

I also thought about the cancer. In some ways, the cure for Scully's cancer had been too easy, too convenient. In the back of my mind, it always nagged me that it could just reappear at some point. Every time she coughed, every time she was dragging a little bit, I could feel my heart sink and every time she got the same cold I'd had for a week, my heart soared a little bit.

The night she came to me in Oregon, I was afraid again, afraid that she was going to be taken from me. I never dreamed that I was the one who was leaving.

I sleep walked through the next few weeks, trying to figure out my place, struggling to understand the dynamics between Scully and Agent Doggett...hell, between Scully and Skinner. Everything seemed to have changed while I was gone. We still didn't talk about it...about the baby. It was this huge elephant in the middle of every room.

I found myself finally sorting through the things I had brought down from Connecticut after my mom's death. It was so weird, the things Mon had kept...outfits from when Sam and I were little. There was this god-awful Coca-Cola pantsuit I remembered Sam wearing for her first day of school on year. Can't even remember that year, but I know Sam had a school picture taken in it. That's probably why I remembered it so well.

The final box held the toys my mom had saved. There was a collection of Lego's, that damned Stratego game and at the bottom was the doll. It hadn't been a toy of Sam's, but rather had sat in my parents' room on their bed. My mom always said she would give it to Sam when she was old enough to really take care of it. Of course Sam never got that old.

I set the doll aside. I'd give it to Scully. Her baby would never have to wait to play with a toy from me, no matter what. I wasn't going to wait for stuff like that anymore. Life was too damned precious.

I look down at Scully's face underneath the oxygen mask. I can see that she's scared. Hell, I'm scared too, but I try to unclench my teeth and smile at her, reassure her that everything is going to be okay, that nothing is going to happen to this baby. How could I think that everything would go okay? Clearly she had been completely stressed throughout the entire pregnancy and probably doing things she shouldn't do...all because of me. I caused her all the pain in her life.

Why had I teased her tonight about the pizza man? And that remark about how we just worked together...what was I thinking? It was time for me to be there for her, to support her, but instead I just acted like a jackass again and again.

We pulled into the driveway at the ER and the paramedics draw Scully from the ambulance. At least they had let me ride along. I would not have been able to collect myself to drive over, that's for sure.

"That Scully? Dana? She's got what? Abdominal pains?" the nurse asks as we come into the hallway.

"Her doctor is Dr. Speake," I answer. Thank god, I have finally found some way to be of use.

"Oh, he's been called."

"She," I correct, my gaze held on Scully. I grip her hand, trying to reassure her.

"Who are you? The husband?" the nurse demands.

"No," I answer. No, I'm definitely not the husband. I'm the "hey, you've been hanging around for a long time" guy. Not the husband.

"Then you wait outside," the nurse answers, and suddenly Scully is gone. Shit, where have they taken her?

"Agent Mulder, what happened?"

I spin around to find Agent Doggett standing in front of me. What the fuck is he doing here?

"How'd you find out?" I ask.

"I was dropping something off. The landlord told me."

"Are you the husband?"

The bitch is back. Believe me, if I'm not the husband, then he's definitely not. Shit. What is he doing here? At least he has the decency to look confused, but now we're both stuck out here. Why won't he just leave? I hate that he has this connection to Scully, this bond. I hate that he was there for her. God, Mulder, you are a selfish bastard. You'd rather have her be alone than have this man, this apparently decent guy? Yes. Easy answer.

It's been hell being away from Scully during this. I wanted to curse Reyes for calling me in on this case, but it's also the first thing that's made me feel normal. Being out in the field I don't have the sense that every single person is thinking "that's the guy who was dead." I mean, they could be, but everyone is still so focused on the case.

I finally make it back to the hospital. It's after three in the morning, but I'm assuming this also means that the perimeter guard might be relaxed and I can get past Nurse Ratchett to see Scully.

"You awake?" I call softly from the door. I know she isn't, but damn, I need to see her. She wakes up and looks over at me.

"Yeah," she answers softly.

I close the door and walk to her bed. God, she's so beautiful. It's so infrequent that I see her like this, with no make-up, a little sleep in her eye. I want to lean in and kiss her soft lips, but I have the sense this might not be the time.

"What did the doctor say?" I ask.

"That I had a partial abruption. Which means that my placenta started to tear away from the uterine wall. They're going to need to monitor me for awhile."

I smile at her. She just takes this all in stride.

"But you're going to be fine?"

"Yeah," she answers.

I reach out and rest my hand on her swollen belly. I had never touched the baby, but I need to now, to make sure it's there, that we're here. The baby responds, moving slightly under my hand. It's amazing! Scully smiles back at me. She gets it.

"Where have you been?" she asks.

I slide my hand off her stomach, the moment is broken. Now it's time to face the music.

"I've actually been out in the field with Agent Doggett and this, um, female Agent from New Orleans."

"Agent Reyes."

Scully says that she likes her. I'm a bit surprised. They're nothing alike and I tell her that. She points out that we don't have much in common either. That's for sure. She wants to know about the case, but it's so late and I can tell she's tired. We can certainly talk about Doggett later. It doesn't need to be now. The important thing now is that Scully get her rest and that the baby is okay.

I smile as I watch Scully sitting on her couch, picking at the pizza I had ordered earlier. She isn't back to full strength, but she looks so much better than that first night in the hospital when she was so pale and scared.

I reach behind the couch and bring out the gift I had brought over earlier.

"I bet you forgot about that, didn't you?"

"No, I didn't, actually. I thought about it a lot while I was lying in my hospital bed wondering what on earth you could have given me," Scully teased.

Oh god, what if I've given this too much of a build-up...this is a first baby, a beloved baby. Certainly she won't be looking for old relics of a family that never really worked in the first place.

"Oh, my god. Oh, Mulder," Scully exclaims as she pulls out the old-fashioned home-made rag doll. She appears to be quite pleased.

"Is it what you imagined?"

"Not even close," she answers.

I wonder what she had expected...a baseball glove? Snugglies? Something more traditional.

"Oh, my, that's the wrong doll, actually," I reply in my typical smart-ass fashion. She responds by trying to hit me with the doll. God, this feels so good...so much like it's us again.

"But then that's the other gift that you gave me, Mulder," Scully says, holding my gaze.

I'm not sure what she's talking about. What have I given her other than pain and anguish?

"Courage... to believe. And I hope that's a gift I can pass on."

I look down at the baby. I can see that he's moving again. I tentatively move my hand over to touch it again. Scully places her hand on mine.

"No matter what happens, Mulder, the one thing I know is I want you in my life. I need you in my life, just like I need this baby."

No matter what happens. I wonder just what she means by that. I'm about to ask when she continues.

"I wanted to test the baby, to know for sure, but with the abruption...well, it's going to have to wait until he or she is born."

"Test?" I ask.

"For paternity," she says slowly, looking me straight in the eye. "I know what I believe, but there are so many questions about this child. I know that I was considered barren after my abduction. I know that we tried to use my ova through in vitro fertilization. I know that I was intimate with you for three months before you disappeared. What I don't know is how this baby came to be and that's a question I'm scared to ask, because I'm not sure I can handle the answer."

I nod. I've had all of these questions as well. I still have them.

"But know this one thing, Mulder. This baby is not replacing you in my life, no matter what happens. I need you to know that."

I nod my head again. I'm not sure I'm capable of speech. I'm just so overwhelmed.

"I...I want you in my life, too, Scully..." I start. I reach down and touch her cheek. She's so soft.

"I just don't want to do anything to jeopardize you, or your baby. I think that until we know for sure what's going on, I should maybe just stay away, not get too close."

She's crushed. I can tell. I don't think that's what she expected to hear from me, but as much as she says she wants me in her life, I can't have that if it means any harm to her or the baby. It would be so much better to just not have me around.

"I'll come back tomorrow and work on that cradle for you," I say, getting up. I move to take dishes into the kitchen. God, it's so uncomfortable. I just need to get out of here now.

I sit on the steps in front of Scully's apartment trying to work out what I've done. What am I so afraid of? Am I afraid that I'm not the father of her baby? Or am I afraid that I am the father? What is my place in her life?

The stupid part is that Scully has told exactly where she wants me in her life. She told me pointblank this evening and still I had run away. I ran because there are still so many things that are beyond my control. Is it better for me to be there to protect her or to be gone, so as not to draw attention to her? I'm just not sure.

As I'm sitting here contemplating the great questions on life, I hear the front door open. I turn to find Scully standing there in her bathrobe.

"You shouldn't be down here," I say, smiling at her. "We just got you out of the hospital."

"Yeah, you did, but I won't break, Mulder."

I get up and walk over to face her.

"That was kind of an abrupt departure, partner," she says. She looks like I have crushed her. Well, to be honest, I have. Smashed her as good as I could.

"I..." Jesus, where to start. I draw my breath in and begin again. "I don't want anything to hurt you or this baby, Scully. I'm just afraid that by being here, I might do that. It would kill me if anything ever happened to you."

She smiles, that half smile and reaches out to touch my arm. She knows. God, she knows. She hands me a key to her apartment. Without saying another word, she turns and goes back into the building. She wants me there, but on my terms.

I'll keep a safe distance, a distance that will hopefully keep others from harming Scully and will protect me and my so-called delicate psyche. But I'm not going so far that I can't protect her. I'm still keeping her back.

I look down out of the windows and wonder where Scully is. I'm in this helicopter on some kind of faith that I will find her, that I will keep my promise to her and to myself that I will protect her. It turns out it wasn't me they wanted at all, but instead it was Scully's baby that was the prize they were all seeking. Typical that I would fancy myself the center of the world, when no one really gave a rat's ass about me.

Self-pity has never been your color, Fox Mulder.

The helicopter pilot uttered something unintelligible into my headphones and pointed ahead. I kid you not...there was a bright light, a star if you will. I gestured for him to follow it. If it worked for three wise men, it might just work for one fool.

"Down there. Get me down there," I shout into the microphone, hoping he understands me.

A swarm of people are on the ground. I try desperately to get their attention, but they all walk past me, as if possessed by spirits...or alien chips in their necks.

"Hey! Scully! Scully! Where is she?! Scully! Where is she?!" I yell. No one will answer me as they get in their vehicles and begin to leave. "Scully! Where is she? Tell me where she is!" I can feel myself getting hoarse from yelling, but I have to find her. I have to.

I look up to see Agent Reyes coming out of a dilapidated building on the street. My god, Scully can't be in there, is she? What the hell was Doggett thinking bringing her here?


I run toward her. The helicopter is still there, following my orders to wait until I had Scully in my arms.

"How is she?" I ask, almost afraid to hear the answer.

"She's inside. She needs to get to the hospital," Reyes answers, ushering me into the building.

I cross the room to find Scully passed out, clearly hemorrhaging. The tiny baby is tucked in her arms. Even in her unaware state, she is clutching him tightly.

"The baby came out okay, but I think there was a problem with the placenta. We need to get her to a doctor," Reyes says.

I hand her the baby, taking a moment to look at his tiny face. I have to admit that I snuck a peek under the blankets. Scully's son is beautiful and perfect. He's completely perfect.

I pick Scully up. She moans slightly, but I don't think she's aware. As we approach the helicopter, I realize that we're not all going to fit on board.

"You go with her," I shout to Agent Reyes. "I'll bring your car."

She pauses for a moment, but then climbs aboard, carefully holding the baby. I slide Scully in on the seat next to her, propping her against Reyes' arm. I hope Monica has left a map in the car to tell me where the hell I am. I pause as she reaches into her pocket, handing me a map and the keys.

"Good luck, Mulder," she calls.

I wave as the chopper takes off.

I want to rush to Scully's side, but as I head for the car, I think I see Billy Miles again. I turn quickly, but he's not there. None of the replicants are. Will they haunt me the rest of my days?

Haunted. That's a good word for it. For as much as I want to think that I've been acting like a jackass because that's all I'm capable of, the truth is I've been haunted since I returned. I've tried to stamp down the fear that they will come back for me, to rationalize that they must have gotten what they wanted the first time, but the memories of what happened on the ship do come back.

I've tried taking something to sleep, to calm my night fears, but what I find is that I'm still awake, but feel incapable of even turning on the lights to show that it's my imagination putting the shadowy figures in my room with me, not the actual forms returning for me.

This has kept me away from Scully. It will continue to keep me away from Scully if I don't do something about it. Instead of pointing the car toward Athens, where they've taken Scully to the hospital, I head for the airport in Atlanta. I'm of no use to Scully if I don't try to help myself first.

I slip in the door, using my key for the first time since I got back. A quick glance around the living room and the sounds from Scully's bedroom tell me that we're not alone.

I wait in the living room as the Lone Gunmen are finishing up their visit.

"Get some rest," Frohike advises as he walks toward her bedroom door.

I'm still standing there, in the shadows when they go to leave.

"We didn't hear you come in," Frohike says.

"We were just dropping off gifts," Langly interjects.

"We just wanted to..." Byers' voice trails off.

"See it with your own eyes," I respond for them. They are in their super-geek, super-protective mode. It's pretty amusing for me to witness. Their love for Scully is like none other and it seems to have moved to a whole other level while I was gone.

We chat for a moment and then finally, they leave. Now there is nothing to stop me from seeing Scully and the baby, for finally knowing, once and for all.

It's been a week since I had to leave them in Georgia, but it's totally different being back in Scully's apartment. It's the first time I've felt truly calm, like this is where I belong. I haven't solved all of my problems, but acknowledging that I may have a post-traumatic stress problem went a long way toward making me feel more confident. That and a little bit of anti-anxiety medication.

"How's everybody doing?" I ask. I figured I could start out with the easy answers.

"We're doing just fine."

With that, Scully gets up and carries the baby to me. I push the blanket away from his face, getting my first good look at him since I took him out of her arms in that dirty Georgia town.

The baby begins to fuss as soon as I touch him. "Hey, now. None of that."

She smiles at me, and then hands him to me. Ohmigod...he's so tiny. What if I drop him? What if I'm not supporting him right? God, he's so beautiful. Magically, he stops fussing. I look over at his mother. She's magic.

"Hi" I say to the baby. For some reason this old tune my mother used to sing pops in my head. I begin to hum a little bit of it. "What are you going to call him?"

"William," she says.

William? There are already a lot of Williams in both of our families.

"After your father."

His face flashes in front of my eyes, the look he had when I saw him that last night, the way he looked at my mom, before all the bad stuff happened, the way he looked at Samantha and I...proud. Scully didn't even know him. I'm in awe of her again. I hope she realizes how much this means to me.

She smiles at me again. I look back down at the baby, baby William.

"Well, I don't know. He's... he's got your coloring and your eyes. But he looks suspiciously like Assistant Director Skinner." Geez...not the cue ball jokes. Fox!

We both laugh for a moment, but then Scully stops, frowning.

"I don't understand, Mulder-- they came to take him from us-- why they didn't."

"I don't quite understand that either. Except that maybe he isn't what they thought he was. That doesn't make him any less of a miracle though, does it?"

He is a complete miracle to me. Wait a minute...she said "us." Is that US or us?

"From the moment I became pregnant, I feared the truth... about how... and why. And I know that you feared it, too."

I definitely feared it. I feared this baby and everything that went along with him. I feared us. I feared me.

"I think what we feared were the possibilities. The truth we both know." And I did. She didn't even have to say it to me.

"Which is what?"

Still holding William, I lean into kiss her. I've done it before, but this time is different. This time is forever. She reaches out and takes my arm and returns my kiss, her tongue slipping further in my mouth, as my lips part to meet her. I feel her hand slipping down from my arm, toward my hind side when I straighten up. The kiss breaks and she steps back from me.

"What?" she asks, her lips swollen, slightly.

"Baby," I say as an explanation. We walk to the bed and lay William on the covers between us.

"He's so beautiful," she says, clearly still in awe of the miracle.

"I'm sorry it took me so soon to get here," I say. "You should know...Krycek is dead."

Scully looks up at me, surprised.

"No, I didn't...Skinner did. He was...well, I'm not sure what he was doing. I still don't know if he was trying to save William or destroy him, but we won't have to worry about him anymore."

She reaches down to touch the baby's feet. They look so soft and warm.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there, that I didn't come to the hospital. I...I realized something about me, about us."

Scully looks at me, her eyes questioning.

"I've been afraid, afraid of everything, since I got back. I...I think I'm a little broken inside. I need to fix that, Scully."

"And have you?" she asks, reaching now to touch my arm. The baby cooes and kicks his legs beneath our arms.

"I've started anyway...I'm seeing someone, taking some medication to soften the edges."

"I did the tests," she says, looking up at me. "Thanks for sending the blood to the lab."

I nod. This was it. Thank god for Paxil. I should get right through this...

"You should know that the results wouldn't make any difference to me, Mulder."

I meet her gaze and return her smile. Be supportive. I can be supportive.

I like to think I knew that it wouldn't make a difference, but I was pretty sure it would, to both of us, if this child had been created unnaturally.

"I can't explain it...but he is our child. The timing ... it was after your trip to England. Genetically he's ours."

She's crying now. I know these are tears of joy, but I hate to see her cry. I pull her as close as I can without hurting the baby.

I flash back to that journey of the mind I took two years earlier, when I had a chance to take another path. Knowing now that it was my own subconscious helps me understand what "Diana" said to me in my dream... "you won't know the true joy of responsibility until you plant your feet in the world... and become a father." Her words are true, but not with her. I was meant to come to this moment, with Scully. William is mine, my son, and my feet are firmly planted now.

"I love you, Scully. I love William."

It should not have mattered so much, but in one fell swoop, all of my insecurities seemed gone. I'm sure they'll come back tomorrow, but for tonight I am going to love this woman and gratefully receive her love right back.


Feedback gratefully received here.

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