Rating: *S* for squeaky clean
Thanks to: Ebird, Euphrosyne, Dee, Weyo, Syn, and Amy for putting up with my crappy typing, eclectic diction, and eccentric beta demands.
For: JET. Happy Holidays!
Note 1: The post-ep I've been meaning to write
since May 20, 2001.
Summary: Instead of an answer, Mulder gave her a kiss.
"Which is what?"
Instead of an answer, Mulder gave her a kiss.
A real, honest-to-god, boy-meets-girl, smack-dab-on-the-lips, Hollywood-happy-ending kiss. Her stomach flipped, and her breasts, suddenly heavy with milk, tingled, and 'Wow,' she thought, clutching him by the elbow and dragging him closer. 'Wow.'
The baby between them squeaked and Mulder pulled back, but not away. He smiled and tipped his forehead to hers and she shivered. His skin was so cool and he was here and solid and it was real, all real. Her breath snagged in her chest and her eyes slipped closed. This WAS happening, she assured herself. Mulder was alive and well and standing in her bedroom and holding their son and...
"The world didn't end this time, either, Scully," Mulder murmured, the sound and feel and scent of him drawing her like a magnet.
"No," she agreed, trying to catch her breath. She licked her lips. "No, it didn't. It hasn't the last couple of times, either."
"So maybe we've got it figured out?"
She nodded, feeling dazed, dizzy, overwhelmed. Her heart raced. "Maybe."
He leaned in. "Or maybe we need more practice," he mumbled against her lips.
And he kissed her again. And then again, and again, and again, and wow.
It had all been worth it. Every misstep, every moment of denial and doubt, of fear and regret, every second, every heartbeat. Worth it. All worth...
Something squeezed low in her abdomen, and she hissed a breath in through her teeth.
"I'm fine," she answered, anything but. She took a few short, shallow breaths, determined not to double over, not to clutch her belly, not to ruin this one perfect moment. A second pain struck, stronger, sharper, and her determination collapsed.
There was alarm in his voice now. "Scully?"
She grimaced. Damn. Damn! "It's - it's nothing."
"Nothing nothing or really nothing?" Mulder shifted William from his arm to his shoulder in a seemingly effortless motion, then looped his right arm around her, supporting her, guiding her to the edge of the bed. "Talk to me, Scully."
The third spasm was weaker, the fourth, weaker still. The fifth was little more than a flutter. She exhaled slowly, pulled herself up straight. "Really nothing," she said, taking in his worried expression. She forced a smile. "Really."
Mulder stood in front of her, rubbing slow circles into William's narrow back, frowning. At last he asked, "After-pain?"
Scully's brows rose. "Exactly how much Oprah did you watch?"
He settled carefully beside her on the edge of the mattress, continued rubbing. "Enough."
"Enough for what?"
Mulder gave her a half-shrug and a half-smile. "Enough to make a complete pain in the ass of myself."
She chuffed out a laugh and he caught her hand, laced his fingers through hers. Raising their joined hands, he brushed a kiss across her knuckles. Their eyes met and held. "Enough to help out, if I get a chance."
A soft 'oh' escaped her, and she looked down, unsure of what to say.
A silent moment followed. Then Mulder softly cleared his throat and shifted his weight and said, "Yeah. Oh." His hand left hers and returned to William's back.
She closed her eyes. She had to say something, do something. This was her cue, probably her only chance, and she was blowing it. "Muld-" she began.
The baby squirmed and sighed at the sound of her voice and Scully watched Mulder nuzzle William's tiny head with his cheek. The baby wriggled again, and Mulder carefully moved him from his shoulder to the crook of his arm. "God, he's gorgeous," he said.
"He's pretty cute," she agreed. She reached across and stroked William's open palm with her knuckle. The baby responded, wrapping his tiny fingers tightly around her much larger one. The strength of his grip still surprised her. But then, everything about William still surprised her.
"It's hard to believe we did this," Mulder said, his breath soft and hot on her cheek.
Her voice was thick with emotion. "I know."
William's mouth stretched into a broad oval yawn, and Scully found herself yawning in response.
"Hey." Mulder's free arm slipped around her waist and before she could argue or pull away, he tugged her closer, tucking her beneath his chin. "Tired?"
She nodded against his chest and, unable to stop herself, yawned again. "A little, I guess."
"You sleep last night?"
Another nod. "A little."
He'd begun smoothing his palm along her hip, the motion lulling, almost hypnotic. She let her eyes drift shut again.
"You could probably use a nap."
She listened to his heart tap its steady, soothing rhythm against her ear. A nap sounded like a good idea, but...
But what? She yawned again. "I probably could."
"William's nodding off. And you're supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps."
He laughed a little and pulled her closer still. "When's your mom coming back?"
"Don't know." She shook her head. She'd stay tucked against him only another minute, maybe two. "Sometime after five, probably."
"I could go, and let you get some rest," he said.
She lifted her head and raised her eyes to his, searching his expression. Whatever he was thinking, whatever he was feeling, his features held no clue.
Her eyes went to William, now sound asleep, snug in the bend of his father's arm. The baby's grip on her finger had loosened, but he was still holding on.
"You could," she said, holding on in her own way.
"Or I could stay until then." It was more question than statement.
She lifted her eyes to his again. "You could do that, too."
"I could," he said. "I just...Scully, I have to know."
Her brows drew together. "You have to know what, Mulder?"
Mulder licked his lips. "I need to know where I fit in here, if I fit in here."
"I need an answer, Scully. What do you want?"
"Oh," she said, understanding finally coming. She cupped his cheek, drew her thumb across his hard cheekbone. "Oh, Mulder."
Mulder's eyes searched hers. He waited.
"You don't know?" she asked, amazed. "You really don't know?"
Mulder shook his head. "Tell me?"
One day, she thought, and stroked his cheek again. One day, one of them would finally work up the nerve. One day, one of them would just say it.
But, instead of an answer, Scully gave him a kiss.