Rating: NC-17 (Language, Adult Situations, Sexual Content)
Classification: MSR; Fill-In-the-Blanks ("Plus One" through "My Struggle IV"); Post Season 11; Post Series
Spoilers: Seasons 1-11
Summary: After Scully tells Mulder she’s pregnant at the end of season 11, then what? How does Mulder react to the news there’s a baby on the way? When and how did Scully first learn about the blessed event? Was the baby conceived naturally or is it part of an insidious plot, like William? What exactly did Skinner tell Scully about William’s conception? What’s on our heroes’ minds as the pregnancy progresses? Is Mulder able to be there for the child’s birth this time? CC left us with a whole lot of unanswered questions after My Struggle IV. Time to fill in those blanks.
Disclaimer: The characters Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, William/Jason Van De Kamp, CSM, Walter Skinner, Monica Reyes, John Dogget, Alvin Kersh, and Chuck Burks are the property of Chris Carter, FOX and 1013 Productions. No copyright infringement intended. This is for fun, not profit.
Beta: Special thanks to xdksfan!
Author's Note: This story is a prequel to my Unfinished Business Series (Reprise, Thanksgiving, Fox Hunt, Beyond This Mortal Coil). If you’ve already read the other stories in the series, you may recognize a few bits of dialog or plot points in this story. All of the fics in the series are stand-alone stories.
It happened…before Dana Scully learned the unbearable truth that her son was not hers. Was not Mulder’s. Before Jackson was shot in the head, murdered on a chilly night on a deserted pier beside an abandoned sugar factory. Before her heart shattered.
It happened. Something terrifying. Yet wondrous. Something impossible. More than impossible. And yet…
OFFICE OF DR. MICHELE AMATO
ST. GERARD PRIMARY CARE
TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 2018
“What brings you in today, Dana?”
Dr. Amato takes a seat on her wheeled stool and rolls it in front of a desk and a humming computer. A tap on her keyboard causes Dana’s medical files to appear on the monitor, the type too small for Dana to read from where she sits. Amato glances at it, then gives her full attention to her patient. Her smile is friendly and genuine.
Dana prefers being the doctor, not the patient, wearing the white coat and stethoscope, in charge of the situation. Instead, she perches on the edge of a chair in the corner of a small exam room, feeling awkward and unwell. The room is predictably chilly. The air smells like alcohol wipes. A blood pressure cuff dangles from the wall near her head. Minutes ago, an admitting nurse revealed her BP was higher than it should be.
“I’ve been feeling…off.” Dana’s uncertain where to place her hands. Or how to describe her symptoms.
“Tired. A little dizzy.”
“Dizzy all the time or just now and again?”
“Not all the time.”
“Anything unusual going on in your life right now?”
The question is absurd, given Dana’s job. But Amato doesn’t know the details of what she does, only that she’s an FBI agent and a doctor. She’s been Dana’s GP for three years but there’s no way to explain it all.
“Let me put it another way,” Amato says when Dana doesn’t immediately answer. “What’s going on when these dizzy spells occur?”
The first time was when William…Jackson…reentered her life. They experienced some sort of mysterious mental connection. Shared visions. It was disorienting, so of course she felt off balance. She decides not to mention it. The circumstances seem too complicated to unravel here. Dana has no rational explanation for what happened.
Instead, she says, “My partner and I went to Kentucky in early February to find a missing person…our former boss. We found him after a long search.” In a pit trap, set by Davy James, the unhinged son of Skinner’s Vietnam war buddy John James, a.k.a. Kitten. Later, riding in the ambulance with Skinner, Dana felt lightheaded and unsteady. “The search took most of the night. I was tired and briefly experienced some minor disequilibrium.”
“Did it recur?”
“Yes. A couple of weeks later after a gas explosion in my house.”
Amato’s brows lift in questioning surprise.
“Don’t ask,” Dana says. “There were several more times, too. At the office. At home. The most recent was last Wednesday, after I was pushed down a 4-story dumbwaiter.”
In retired actress Barbara Beaumont’s apartment…all the way to the basement where several decades' worth of foul-smelling trash broke her fall.
“You lead an active life,” Amato says. “And a dangerous one, by the sound of it.”
“It’s the nature of the work.”
“Mm. How’s your appetite?”
“Not great, to be honest.” Her disinterest in food is causing her weight to drop. “I’ve lost a few pounds.”
Amato glances at Dana’s intake info on her computer. “You’re down seven pounds since your last annual physical.”
Amato points to the exam table. “Okay, hop on up and let me listen to your heart and lungs.”
Dana does as she’s told. She takes one deep breath after the next while Amato presses her stethoscope to Dana’s back and chest.
“Let’s draw some blood and get a urine sample to rule out a few things,” Amato says when she’s finished with the exam. “It could be you’re just anemic and little run down.” Then, almost as an afterthought, “When was your last period?”
Dana has to think back, count the weeks. “Couple of months.” Just before the Titanpointe case.
“Are you usually irregular?”
“For about a year, yes. I guess I’m going through menopause. I turned 54 in February. It’s certainly time.”
It was the specter of menopause, along with Little Judy Poundstone’s nasty comments about Dana’s age a couple of months ago, that prompted her to ask Mulder if he thought of her as old.
“How old are you? Forties?” Little Judy had asked. “Past your childbearing years. You're all dried up, not even half a woman. Nothing hurts like the truth.”
Dana shouldn’t have given credence to Judy’s mean-spirited accusations — the woman was mentally ill after all — but as Dana told Mulder after the encounter, a woman thinks about these things.
“Have you had any hot flashes? Night sweats?” Amato asks.
“Vaginal dryness? Problems sleeping?”
“Maybe some trouble sleeping."
“Hm.” Amato drapes her stethoscope around her neck. “Any chance you’re pregnant?”
Dana shakes her head. “No. That’s impossible.”
“You’ve had no unprotected sex in the past couple of months?”
“Well…yes, one time.”
Twice, actually. With Mulder at the St. Rachel Motel. The suite with a pull-out sofa. During the Judy and Chucky Poundstone case.
Can you hold me?
Yeah, I can do that.
A few pointed questions from Mulder followed by true confessions from Dana had led to a round of love making, the first since they’d separated several years ago. A second round, not out of the realm of extreme possibility, came the next day. And now she’s living in their home once again. Only temporarily. 1213 37th Place, Bethesda, was a total loss after the explosion. Mulder generously invited her to move back to Farrs Corner, to stay with him while she waited for her insurance payment to arrive. No strings. No expectations.
Just until I find a new place, she’d said.
In any case, it’s not like they’re a couple any longer, not like they used to be. They may live in the same house but they don’t share a bed. Mulder sleeps on the couch. Claims he prefers it, even when he was alone.
Maybe especially when he was alone.
They haven’t had sex since the pull-out sofa in Henrico County, Virginia.
“I’ll order a pregnancy test,” Amato says, “just to rule it out.”
227700 WALLACE ROAD
THE NEXT DAY
Mulder is on his way to an airport in Braddock Heights, Maryland, searching for William on a tip from Monica Reyes. Dana doesn’t believe their son is there but Mulder worries it might be their last best chance to find him.
Just come back safe, she told him before he left.
Her phone rings. She hopes it’s Mulder saying he found William. Caller ID says it's her doctor.
“Dana Scully,” she identifies herself.
“Hi Dana. It’s Janet from Dr. Amato’s office. I have the results of your blood work. Do you have a moment to go over it?”
“Yes, of course.”
She paces the room, the phone pressed too tightly to her ear. Gooseflesh rises on her shoulders and arms. A wave of nausea rolls through her belly.
“Good news, your labs came back normal.”
That is good news but how does it account for her symptoms?
“Does Dr. Amato want me to come in for a follow up? Have some additional tests done?”
“She does want to see you again. And soon. But for a consult, not more tests.” Janet clears her throat like she's about to make an important announcement. "Your pregnancy test came back positive. Congratulations, Dana! You’re having a baby!”
Fearing her legs might give out, Dana drops onto the bed.
“That can’t be.”
“I assure you, the results are accurate.” Janet sounds happy on Dana’s behalf, a feeling she’s not sure she shares. It’s too unbelievable. “Can you come in on Thursday the 22nd at 2:30 for an advanced maternal age consult with Dr. Amato?”
As a doctor, Dana knows pregnancy after age 45 is considered high risk. For both the mother and the baby. But she can’t be pregnant. It must be a mix-up, a false positive. I’m at the end of that journey, she’d told Mulder when he asked why she didn’t pursue having more children.
“Dana, are you there?” Janet asks.
“Uh, yes, sorry. Tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be there.”
If the situation with William is resolved, that is.
Today, she’ll drive to a pharmacy and pick up an OTC pregnancy test. She needs to see the proof herself.
Dana’s belief in miracles is restored. Her faith in God stronger than ever. The proof is growing inside her. A tiny heart beats. Believe…believe…believe, it says. And she does.
Mulder is not so easily convinced. “I Want To Believe” doesn’t extend to her Christian God. It never did. He’s firmly back in the Trust No One camp. He’s afraid. The feeling is an old one, not easily vanquished.
She is afraid, too. Maybe because belief is usually Mulder’s bailiwick, not hers. But she does believe in God, and Mulder claims to believe in her, yet he refuses to believe in her God. Apparently, the transitive property of equality can falter when it comes to faith.
A box containing two test kits sits unopened on the coffee table while Dana phones Mulder with information she found on the web that might help him track down William. A lotto cluster. Eight recent winners within a 10-mile radius in northeastern Tennessee. Immediately, he sets off for the location of the most recent winner.
While she waits to hear back from him, she works up her courage to take the pregnancy test. She carries the kit to the upstairs bathroom. Her hands shake as she reads the instructions on the box. It says the test should be taken in the morning when urine is more highly concentrated with hCG, human Chorionic Gonadotropin. It’s now early afternoon but she doesn’t want to wait until tomorrow. She washes her hands. Opens the box and unwraps one of the two kits. The digital clock on the tiny viewing screen is holding steady as it should. She raises the toilet seat. Unfastens and lowers her pants. Sits before removing the cap on the kit to expose the stick.
Should she pray first? And for what exactly?
Last week, when she and Mulder were in New York City at St. Joseph’s Church, Port Morris, the Bronx, he asked, “Are you praying for another miracle?”
She’d responded, “I don’t know if I believe in miracles.”
Later that same day, after Mulder pulled her from the dumbwaiter and they returned to the church, he relit her candle and extended her prayers through his.
“I don’t know if any God is listening but I am standing right here. And I am listening,” he said. “Right beside you. That’s my choice.”
It gave her hope. It gives her hope still.
She releases her bladder and positions the stick. Holding it in her stream, she counts off five seconds, then recaps the stick and places it flat on the top of the toilet tank. The next three minutes tick by slowly. She refastens her pants, flushes the toilet, rewashes her hands. Takes a deep breath and checks the digital readout.
“Oh my God.”
She’s pregnant. Somehow. Granted a second miracle? Tears spring to her eyes. Surprise, fear, and gratitude course through her. She wants to tell Mulder. Right away. This very second. She leans on the bathroom counter and blinks at her reflection in the mirror.
Her sight blurs as a rush of visions suddenly swamp her mind in rapid succession: an ultrasound, Jackson Van De Kamp, the Smoking Man. Voices echo in her ears. No one can help me…the person who controls your son…I need the boy. A spaceship hovers over a bridge. Traffic is stalled. The world is ending… She’s desperate to find Mulder, feels certain he is dying along with everyone else on the planet. A viral contagion has been let loose.
Downstairs the phone rings, ending the onslaught of images and sounds. She runs down the steps and grabs her cell.
“It was him, wasn’t it?” she says to Mulder.
“Yeah.” It’s so good to hear his voice. "He cashed in and hitched a ride with a trucker. I’m about two hours behind him.”
This isn’t the time to tell Mulder her news. He needs to stay focused and she’s uncertain how he’ll react. They both have bigger concerns right now.
Hanging up, she tries to think what she can do, how she can help William, stop the catastrophe she knows is coming. Phone still in hand, she dials Tad O’Malley. It’s time to warn the world, light a fire under those who might slow or halt the impending disaster. She gives O’Malley a statement about the conspiracy, complete with predictions of death in the streets caused by a manmade contagion from an alien pathogen.
“A virus is going to be unleashed. Immune systems will be decimated,” she tells him, scarcely able to believe it herself.
He wants her to say all this on air. When she hesitates, he asks if he can say she’s his source.
“A federal agent is your source,” is all she’ll give him, leading him to believe the information is coming from Mulder.
When she hangs up, more visions assail her. They pummel her senses. Make her head spin. She’s convinced it’ll all come to pass unless Mulder can find William and stop it. She sees how it ends. How everything ends. Right when she’s got more to live for than ever. She has to find a way to save everyone, including her unborn baby.
She returns to the bedroom to dress for work, then leaves three messages for Skinner on her drive to the Hoover Building. She needs his help finding Mulder and William. When he doesn’t call back, she hunts him down. She finds him on the phone in the hallway outside Kersh’s office.
But before she can talk to him, her own phone rings. It’s Mulder again. He’s still in Norfolk.
“I’m coming down there,” she says.
“He won’t listen to reason,” he warns.
“He’ll listen to me.” She’s sure of it.
Skinner agrees to go with her and insists on driving.
Maybe she is too caught up in the moment to see his unease. Or attributes it to the current situation. But she soon learns he has something devastating to tell her.
Somewhere on I-64 East to Norfolk, Skinner discloses a terrible truth.
“There’s something you need to know. Something you may not want to hear. It’s about your son and who his father is.”
She can’t breathe. She can barely hear him. When he says Mulder isn’t William’s father, the words seem to come up from a bottomless well. The boy wasn’t conceived in a natural way. He’s an end-product, created in a lab, part of a decades-long experiment. She thinks she might throw up.
“Who…? Who…?” It’s all she can manage to ask.
“You know who. Cigarette Man. He’s behind this. He’s been behind all of it, pulling the strings, playing with people. This contagion? He wants it to happen. And he wants William…to save his own ass. He created William to keep himself alive.”
This is all part of a plan? Kept hidden from her and Mulder all this time? They’ve been duped. Used in the most despicable way. And William? Poor William. Is he really CGB Spender’s progeny and victim?
“Hearing this about William,” Skinner continues, “must come as a shock. I didn’t want to tell you.”
How long has Skinner been sitting on this? Why is she only finding out now? Fuck him! Fuck the Smoking Bastard! She inhales, preparing to scream, to rail against Skinner and Spender and anyone else involved in this vile plot, when Mulder’s car races by on the crossroad ahead. Skinner takes chase.
Everything ends on a dock beside the Sugar Factory. It ends with William dead. The Smoker dead, too. Standing on that wharf with Mulder, having just lost William, seeing Mulder’s grief, she blurts out the truth.
“He wanted us to let him go. He wasn’t meant to be.”
Mulder isn’t ready to accept this. “William was our son.”
“Scully, he was our son!”
Mulder is bereft. She hates what she must tell him.
“William was an experiment, Mulder.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He was an idea…born in a laboratory.”
“But you were his mother!”
“No. I carried him. I bore him. But I was never a mother to him. I wasn’t. William…William was…” She shakes her head, unable to say more. Her heart breaks for Mulder and for the son they thought was theirs. It was all a lie.
“For so long I believed…” Mulder is clearly distraught. “What am I now if not a father?”
Now is the time. Now is the time to tell him. “You are a father.”
“What are you talking about?”
She takes his hand and places it flat against her belly so that their child is beneath his palm.
He looks confused. “That’s impossible.”
“I know. I know it’s…it’s more than impossible.”
She carries a child. Their child, by God’s will this time. But worry creases Mulder’s brow. He embraces her, rests his chin on her head, rocks her gently while she cries for all they have lost, for all that William endured. William believed his death would put an end to the contagion, to the apocalypse. Deep, deep down, she thinks he may have been right.
Dana has always relied on facts to guide her. And these are the facts: Her son who was not her son is dead; a second miracle child is alive in her womb; Skinner’s survival hangs in the balance.
Life is such a precarious thing. A give and take…on repeat. Joy and heartache merge but don’t unite. An omnium gatherum that, when stirred, creates a whirlpool of conflicting emotions. Dana is caught up in the maelstrom. Again.
NORFOLK GENERAL HOSPITAL
THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2018
Skinner is on life support in critical condition after being rundown by the Smoking Man’s car at the Sugar Factory. He suffers several broken bones in his left leg and a shattered hip. He sleeps sedated in his hospital bed. He’ll undergo surgery in two or three days once he’s stabilized.
Mulder sits, legs outstretched, in a visitors’ chair outside of the ICU. Scully paces.
“You trust this doctor of yours?” Mulder asks, referring to Dr. Amato.
“I do. She’s been my GP for more than three years. She’s familiar with my medical history.”
“All of it?”
“Well, no. Only what can be proven or understood in medical terms.”
“Well, I understand very little of it, to be honest.” His words are bitter. Rife with resentment and regret. He’s angry on her behalf. She knows he blames himself for all of the horrors she’s endured since becoming his partner, but she begrudges him nothing. The fault isn’t his. It’s never been his.
Mulder rises from the chair and comes to stand in front of her. She reads uncertainty and sadness in his eyes, not hope or expectation or confidence. Yet, he proceeds to propose marriage. Right there in the hallway outside of the ICU.
It isn’t a hearts-and-flowers, down-on-one-knee kind of proposal. Mulder comes at everything his own way and this is no exception.
“Scully, care to hitch your wagon to this old horse?”
“I have a wagon?”
He leans around her to look at her backside. “You do.”
“I hope that’s a metaphor.”
He smiles, a little mischievous but earnest. The Mulder she knows seems to be returning.
She reaches out to stroke his cheek. He looks hollowed out. Blood stains his clothes from his earlier encounter with William at a hotel in Norfolk, where, as Mulder put it, he “made everyone’s head explode, literally.” Mulder did all he could to save the boy he thought was his son.
“You’re not such an old horse,” she says.
“Thank you.” He withdraws her hand from his cheek to kiss her palm, then pulls her close, wraps her in a tight embrace, and rests his chin on the top of her head. “Marry me, Scully, before Kersh ships me off to the glue factory.”
“We can’t have that.”
“So, your answer is yes?” He leans back to look her in the eyes.
Is marriage a good idea? Would it work for them? She wants to be with him...needs to be with him, now more than ever. She’d wanted so badly to be with him even when she wasn’t.
She doesn’t hesitate. She follows her heart, for once. She says yes.
OFFICE OF DR. MICHELE AMATO
Unable to do more for Skinner, they fly back to Baltimore. There is scant time to go home, shower, and change clothes before they arrive bleary-eyed for Dana’s appointment.
“Dr. Amato, this is my partner, Fox Mulder.” Dana sits next to him in one of the two chairs provided for patients in the tiny exam room. Mulder rises to shake Amato’s hand. Dana explains, “He’s, uh, he’s the baby’s father.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Mulder. Please, take a seat.” She grabs her stool and positions it a few feet in front of them. “Dana, how are you feeling?”
“Fine. Nervous,” she says, being honest. Her palms are damp and she wipes them on her trousers.
“Understandable. Tell me, and please don’t take this question the wrong way, but is this pregnancy a welcome event?”
“Yes, very much so,” Dana says.
Amato looks to Mulder. “Uh, yes,” he says, though his tone isn’t entirely convincing.
“In that case, congratulations to you both.” Amato offers them a warm smile. “From what you’ve told me, Dana, you’re about ten weeks along. Which means your baby is approximately the size of a lime, though today’s ultrasound will give us a more accurate picture. But before that, let’s discuss some general concerns about women who become pregnant later in life. Your medical file indicates you’ve been pregnant and given birth before.”
“Yes. In 2001.”
“It’s likely you’ll experience pregnancy quite differently at your current age. You’re in good health and physically fit, which will work in your favor. That said, pregnancies carry an increased risk for certain complications when the birth parent is 45 or older. Dana, I know you’re a medical doctor, but are you aware of these risks?”
“Higher rates of miscarriage…genetic disorders…gestational trophoblastic disease,” she ticks off what she knows.
“Yes, as well as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. I don’t bring this subject up to scare you but to make you aware of the various conditions we’ll be watching for.”
“What about chromosomal abnormalities?” Dana asks. She hears Mulder suck in a lungful of air.
“Yes, babies born to older mothers have a higher risk of certain genetic conditions. We can test for them, if you like.”
“We’d like testing done,” Mulder rushes to say.
Amato nods. “Are there specific conditions that run in your families you’re concerned about?”
“Oh…well…you know,” he says, “colorblindness…the ability to rise from the dead…alien DNA.”
Amato chuckles. “Ah, the usual.”
He shrugs. “That’s just my side of the family.”
Dana is relieved Amato takes Mulder’s comments as a joke and hopes he doesn’t push it any further.
“Dana, how do you feel about genetic testing?” Amato asks.
“Given my age…well, it would ease our minds to know the baby is normal and healthy.”
Dana knows Mulder isn’t just concerned about abnormalities. He wants a paternity test and he doesn’t trust an unknown person in an unfamiliar lab to run it. A gift from God, a government conspiracy, parthenogenesis, or a naturally occurring event, I want to know if I played any part in this, Scully.
She promised him on the flight home to do additional tests herself once the baby is born, though she’s loathe to open that can of worms. How will it change things if this child is another experiment? Will Mulder choose not to love it? Will he go off on a crusade to levy justice against the men who engineered its existence? There is no happy ending to such a scenario. “Truth” is Mulder’s Holy Grail and he will search it out. But will any proof, any answer satisfy him? Or will his doubt persist until it tears them apart?
“Is it…um…?” Mulder shakes his head. “I’m not sure how to ask my question without sounding stupid…or possibly insensitive.”
“Please, ask whatever you like, Mr. Mulder.” Amato offers an encouraging smile.
“Okay. Is it unusual for a woman in her fifties to have a baby, without the help of IVF or some…other intervention?”
And there it is. He’s thinking about William’s conception, what they learned from Skinner, and is poking for the truth.
“It isn’t common, necessarily, but it’s not unusual either. Most women experience menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 years. As long as a woman is still ovulating, there is the possibility she could conceive naturally.”
Mulder chews his lower lip and avoids looking at Dana.
When he says nothing more, Amato asks, “Would you both like to hear your baby’s heartbeat?”
They nod, so Amato stands and crosses to the ultrasound console, where she types on the keypad and brings the monitor to life. “Is your bladder full?”
“Yes,” Dana and Mulder both answer at the same time.
Mulder chuffs from embarrassment when he realizes the question was meant for Dana. “Sorry. But it’s true.”
Amato laughs. “Up on the table and lie back. Unfasten your waistband and push your trousers down a bit,” she says. “And just to be clear, those instructions are for Dana, not you, Mr. Mulder.”
“Damn.” He offers them both a self-conscious grin.
Dana does as asked. Mulder stands for a better view of the monitor. Amato adjusts Dana’s blouse, baring her midriff.
“This will be a little cold.” Amato poises a bottle of gel over Dana’s exposed abdomen and squeezes.
The sudden chill combined with the mild aloe smell of the gel brings back memories of her last pregnancy. Dana’s throat tightens as old feelings return. Mulder must sense her unease because he takes her hand. His fingers are warm and steady. He is her lifeline.
Amato chooses a handheld transducer from the console and begins rolling it through the gel on Dana’s stomach.
“How exactly does this thing work?” Mulder asks, his attention shifting between the wand pressing into Dana’s belly and the monitor, where light and shadows coalesce and dissipate.
“The probe here directs high-frequency sound waves at the internal body structures,” Amato explains. “The reflected sounds, or echoes, create the images you see on the monitor. That’s your baby’s head, there on the left.” She adjusts the angle of the transducer. “Baby’s anatomy looks good. See the arms? And the legs? Oh, a little kick!” She points to the monitor with her free hand. “And right there…there is the heart. Can you see it beating? That little flutter right there?”
“Yes,” Dana says. “I see it!” It’s impossible not to be excited.
“Want to hear it?“ Amato asks.
“Please,” Mulder says.
When a rapid whoosh-whoosh, whoosh-whoosh comes through the console, Mulder is awestruck.
“I missed all this the last time.” He squeezes Dana’s hand. His eyes are bright. “I’m going to be here for it all this time. I don’t want to miss a thing.”
“Do you want to know the baby’s sex?” Amato asks.
“You can tell from that grainy video?” Mulder asks.
“Sometimes, though it’s a little early to be very accurate in your baby’s case. But at any rate, we already know the gender from Dana’s blood test.”
Dana looks to Mulder, who nods quickly. He suddenly appears as excited as a child at his own birthday party.
“Okay,” Dana says, “boy or a girl?”
“It’s a girl,” Amato announces.
Mulder stares at the fuzzy picture of his daughter on the monitor. His voice drops to a whisper. His tone is reverential. “Scully, we’re having a girl.”
We all want assurances but rarely get them. Circumstances change constantly. We must change with them or suffer the consequences. We may suffer in any case.
Dana is no stranger to suffering. She’s paid her dues. And she’s more than ready for a change. It’s her turn to be happy. Isn’t it? She longs to take control of her destiny. But does she have that power?
Maybe only God can balance the scales. Dana’s faith in God is irrefutable. But so is her faith in herself. And her faith in Mulder.
But what of Mulder? Will this child bring him and Dana closer together? Or will his fears about its seemingly miraculous origins push them apart?
FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2018
“Kersh wants my head.” Mulder is furious. He’s just returned from a meeting with the Bureau’s top brass. “He says I went ‘off the rails.’ That I made the FBI look bad. Like he isn’t part of the conspiracy.”
“Skinner told me Kersh wants both of our badges,” Dana says.
Mulder leans against the kitchen counter, arms crossed. “He’s closing the X-Files.”
“Well, it won’t be the first time. He wants us out of the Bureau, Mulder.”
“We just got the X-Files back!” He’s petulant, decrying the unfairness of life as if they hadn’t experienced it dozens if not hundreds of times already.
“Did he say he was going to fire you?” She notices he’s wearing a service weapon, a new one. He tossed his old one into the harbor.
“He wants me to sweat for awhile. Think about my actions. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes me write ‘I’ve been a bad boy’ a thousand times before giving me the boot.”
Dana has already plotted a course of action that will allow Mulder to keep his job and the X-Files. “I’ll take the fall, Mulder. It was my fault. I was Tad O’Malley’s source, not you.”
“What do you mean ‘take the fall’?”
“I’ll admit what I did and exonerate you. Then I’ll offer to quit if Kersh keeps you on.”
“Hell, no! I can’t let you quit just so I can stay.” He uncrosses his arms and gently tags her cheek with his index finger. “Besides, what’s to say he won’t fire us both anyway?”
“I’ll convince him not to.”
He shakes his head. “I won’t have you sacrifice your career for me.”
“Mulder, it’s my decision and, to be honest, it’s self-serving.”
“I have other responsibilities now.” She pats her belly. “Mulder, I worked when I was pregnant with William. I had to because I needed to find you. But it was hard, brutally hard, being in the field while pregnant. And I was 18 years younger then! There were times when the work put my life and the baby’s life in danger.” She recalls the terror she experienced in Juab County, Utah, at the hands of a cult of religious zealots. They implanted a sentient parasitic organism into her back. Jesus. Thank God, Doggett arrived and cut the thing out of her before it killed her. “I can’t do it anymore. I won’t. I was planning to hand in my resignation anyway. I may as well use the opportunity to bargain for your job.”
Mulder isn’t happy about losing her as his partner but understands her priorities have changed. So, on the following Monday, she confesses to Kersh about her role in Tad O’Malley’s broadcast, relinquishes her badge and service weapon, and cleans out her desk. In return, Kersh has his scapegoat, Mulder gets to keep his job, and she begins her new life as a stay-at-home mom-to-be.
* * *
The next day, they go to City Hall to get married. Chuck Burks serves as a witness. Mulder and Dana exchange vows and wedding rings. She has never missed her mother more than at this moment. After they sign the forms, Chuck takes photos of them standing outside on the front steps. Later that night, he texts some electromagnetically enhanced images to Mulder along with a message that Mulder reads aloud to her, “Wild energy in the Missus’ mid-section. Mulder, you old dog. Congrats!”
“He doesn’t say that.”
“He does.” He hands her the phone.
Sure enough, Chuck’s photo shows a series of brilliantly colored auras radiating outward from her abdomen.
It’s their first night as newlyweds. It’s also the first night they’ve shared a bed since the Judy and Chucky Poundstone case in January, the night their baby was conceived. Dana is nervous. Mulder seems even more so when he slides into bed beside her. His movements are careful, his touch tentative.
Face to face, he pulls her to him. She luxuriates in the comfort of being in their bed and in his arms. The contentment she feels makes her question why she didn’t return to him sooner.
She initiates a kiss, hoping for more, remembering the night their child was conceived and the unexpected thrill she felt at being together again. But he doesn’t respond as he did then, the way she expects now. His kiss is chaste. Quick. More like a peck from a friend than a lover.
She draws back. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, fine…I guess…it’s just…I’ve never had sex with a pregnant woman before. That I’m aware of.”
“Well, I’ve never had sex with a man while pregnant, that I’m aware of,” — she smiles — “so it’ll be a first for both of us."
His face is shadowed in doubt. “‘Desire is the Devil’s pitchfork.’”
These were Sister Mary’s words two years ago when they asked her where the pregnant girls in Augustus Goldman’s program for children with genetic abnormalities came from. Those poor children, horribly disfigured, part of an experiment connected to the DOD. Mulder posited Nugenics Technology was continuing the work of the Syndicate, continuing to breed alien-human hybrids using the maternity ward at Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital — the very hospital where Dana had worked for seven years — to attract homeless and impoverished pregnant women. Which of course then made Dana wonder about William’s origins. “Do you believe he was an experiment?” she had asked Mulder. “Was I just an incubator?”
“You are never ‘just’ anything to me, Scully,” he said, his eyes mournful but earnest.
“Maybe I should hold you for a while first,” he says now. “Turn around.” He indicates he wants her to roll onto her side so her back is to him. When she does as he asks, he wraps his arms around her and spoons against her.
“What is it, Mulder? Don’t you want to…do more? It is our wedding night.”
“I know. And I do, but..."
“I…I wouldn’t want to hurt the baby. Dr. Amato said this is a high risk pregnancy.”
“She said there’s an increased risk for certain complications but she didn’t recommend abstinence.” Dana thinks back to her conversations with her GP as well as what she knows as a doctor. “Only women at risk for preterm labor or antepartum hemorrhage because of placenta previa are advised to avoid intercourse.”
“I don’t know what you just said.”
“Mulder, it’s virtually impossible to harm a 10-week fetus by having sex.”
“You sure?” He traces an invisible circle on her arm. His uncertainty is as palpable as the heat of his skin. “What do you suppose the baby will think of it though, the…the…um…? Will it feel like an earthquake to her? A ride on the Cyclone at Coney Island?”
“Just how passionate do you intend to be?” Dana chuckles.
“I hate to limit myself.” He smiles against her shoulder.
“The baby is well protected at this stage. She wouldn’t remember it any case.”
“Hm,” he hums, unconvinced. “I don’t want her asking me about it some day. ‘Hey, Dad, where did I get this dent in my head?’”
She chuffs a laugh and presses her buttocks into his lap, rubbing against his boxers. He moans softly and grinds his cock against her spine. This is the reaction she was hoping for. Desire pulses low in her belly. “It'll be okay.”
He rises up on one arm, leans over her and tries to press his lips to hers. The angle is awkward, so she tilts her head to give him better access. His hand slides up her neck to cup her jaw, pinning her in place as his tongue plunders her mouth. Her heart beats faster. Heat radiates out to her fingertips and toes. A surge of wetness dampens her pajama bottoms. She gasps when his lips abandon hers. Feather-light kisses taunt her cheek, her temple, her ear. His darting tongue teases her lobe and the creases of her neck. She wants this, all of it: the feel of his body, solid and warm against hers, the rasp of his cheek upon her skin, his panting breaths and wandering hands and heavy-lidded gaze. So familiar. So cherished.
She whispers, “Make love to me, Mulder.”
The mattress dips and creaks as he shimmies out of his boxers. She tugs her PJ bottoms down and off, baring her backside. They resume their former position, her back to his chest. His fiery erection pokes at the backs of her legs, pushes between her thighs. She is eager, almost desperate, for him to enter her. But he hesitates and draws away.
“Mulder…" His name scrapes past tightened vocal chords, her frustration obvious. “You won't hurt the baby. Or me. It's okay, really.”
“No, it's not that. I was just thinking…"
“What if…what if this baby is like William?”
Ah, so that’s it. She doesn’t share his worries. This pregnancy feels different in ways she can’t explain with logic or science. It’s an unexpected turnabout for her, so contrary to her usual strict rationalism, yet she is willing to go with it. She and Mulder have uncharacteristically swapped roles. Now she’s the believer, he the skeptic.
“I have no doubt about the way this baby was conceived, Mulder. This time, I haven’t been in any…compromising situations.” She chooses her words with care, not wanting to say CGB Spender’s name aloud. Even so, she feels Mulder tense behind her.
“You believe this child is a miracle.” It’s not a question and he sounds like the idea is outside the realm of possibility.
“I do. You used to believe in miracles, too. When our attempt at IVF failed, you told me to ‘never give up on a miracle.’”
“I did. But…”
“We thought William was a miracle. And look how that turned out. Fool me once, yada, yada,” he says, making her bristle. The gulf between them threatens to grow into something insurmountable.
She tries to rein in her temper but her anger and frustration boil over. “I wasn’t.”
“Fooled. Well…maybe in the beginning — the very beginning — but not later. I worried constantly that the baby wasn’t what I hoped. That outside forces somehow had a hand in his conception. And I’m not talking about God. You weren’t there. You didn’t see what I went through,” she accuses. Tears prick her eyes. She blinks them back. She doesn’t want to fight with him. More than that, she doesn’t want to fall apart in front of him.
He’s uncharacteristically silent. No rebuttal. He clears his throat. “You’re right. I wasn’t there and…I’m sorry.” He caresses her again, feather light. “What happened? Tell me.”
She doesn’t want to dredge it all up again. She remembers all too well what it was like, worrying about the safety and normalcy of her firstborn as he developed in her womb. The suspicion. The anxiety. The lies and schemes and panic with no one to trust, no one to turn to—
Of course, that wasn’t entirely true. She’d leaned on the Gunmen. On John and Monica. On Walter. But they weren’t Mulder and he was who she needed. If he hadn’t gone to Bellefleur—
No, she mustn’t blame him. He believed he was protecting her when he went to Oregon. And he paid dearly for it.
“I apologize, Mulder,” she says, feeling contrite. “It wasn’t like you were off on a Princess Cruise.”
“I wasn’t? Guess that explains the lousy food.” He palms the curve of her shoulder. “I promise you, Scully, I’ll be here this time…for all of it. You won’t go through this pregnancy alone.”
Twisting to look into his eyes, she reaches out, plows her fingers into his hair, and draws his mouth to hers. She feels him grow hard against her hip.
“Not from behind,” he murmurs, tugging at her. “I want to see you.”
She rolls onto her back and he moves on top of her, his hips cradled between the vee of her thighs. She enjoys the feel of his weight on top of her. Slowly, he pushes into her. Pressure becomes fullness which turns into a welcome heat. The feeling is divine.
He hisses with obvious pleasure. “I'm not hurting you, am I?”
“No. I'm fine. More than fine. I’m…” Sated is the only word to describe the way she feels.
His hand searches out her breasts, which are fuller, the nipples more sensitive because of her pregnancy. She fills his palm and her curves seem to please and excite him. He gropes her. Tugs gently at her left nipple. The sensation is exquisite. And powerful. Pleasure rockets through her. Blissful pinpricks of electricity tingle her where their flesh meets.
Every sensation reminds her how she has always loved being with him this way, how well he knows her body, how good they are together. They’re made for one another, despite their differences. Or maybe because of them.
“You can go deeper,” she urges, opening her thighs wider, wanting to feel more of him.
He complies, deliberate and measured, his eyes locked onto hers to gauge her reaction as he buries himself into her inch by inch.
“Too much?” he asks.
He begins a dawdling withdrawal. Then returns, unhurried, careful.
“Mmmm,” she hums. “S’nice."
“Let’s try for something better than just nice.” He picks up the pace.
She moans into his neck. Runs her palms over his ribs, kneads his shoulders. His skin is flushed and glistening. He’s breathing hard. Braced on his arms, he watches her intently. She stares back up at him, into his moss-green eyes. So familiar yet unfathomable. Will she ever know him completely?
She spreads her legs as wide as possible, lifts her pelvis to meet his, and he pushes into her as deeply as he can go. Her pleasure grows with each thrust. They’ve preformed this act countless times but every time staggers her. She is overwhelmed by her love for him.
Her ardor blossoms. Her blood becomes fire and her pulse a drum in her ears, drowning out her sudden cry of ecstasy. A grunt punctuates his own release moments later.
His movements slow, then cease altogether. He embraces her tightly and buries his nose into her neck. His ragged breath puffs hotly against her sweaty skin. His penis grows flaccid inside her.
“Damn, I was hoping to last longer,” he groans.
She hums, completely satisfied. “We can always do it again later.”
“Hold you to it.” He yawns and slips out of her as he rolls away, onto his back.
She turns to face him.
“C’mere." He gathers her into his arms.
Snuggled against his chest, she listens to his heartbeat. His breathing slows. Soon, a gentle snore whistles from his nose.
“Everything will be alright,” she whispers, before sleep captures her, too.
Shhhh. Listen. Really listen. Quiet the inner noise and hear the truth.
Dana is listening to her instincts for what may be the first time in her life. She has set aside her rationalism and need for proof. Her heart tells her what she needs to know and she is content to follow its drumbeat on faith.
But Mulder’s innate intuition appears to have abandoned him. Vanished as if it had never existed. He is left adrift and shaken. Doubt and foreboding ring in his ears like Sirens’ cries.
THREE MONTHS LATER
Spring passes and summer begins. Skinner is recuperating in a rehab center closer to DC. At six months along, Dana is now obviously pregnant. She and Mulder attend monthly appointments with Dr. Judith Spizuoco, an obstetrician recommended by Dr. Amato. Mulder fully vets the new doctor, using all the resources available to him at the FBI. He discovers no red flags, yet remains predictably suspicious.
Dana’s second trimester is a welcome respite from the discomfort of the first few months. Her energy rebounds. She feels unbelievably horny. It’s the only word for it. Mulder is appreciative and comments often on what he must’ve missed the first time she was pregnant. He’s gotten over his fear of harming the baby while having sex. But it seems to be the only fear he’s conquered.
The bigger she gets, the more assurances Mulder seems to need that the baby she carries is okay. Not an experiment, not part of an agenda. Entirely human and natural and really his. And hers. Unlike William.
Their hearts still ache for William. This new child will not replace him, cannot erase his importance in their lives, the love they felt for him. Feel for him still.
Dana’s faith in God sustains her and draws her back to the Church. She starts to regularly attend Sunday services. She confesses, receives Holy Communion, lights candles, prays. It restores her soul and brings her hope. The smell of incense makes her think of her mother. She imagines sitting beside her in the pew, knowing how excited her mom would be about this new grandchild.
Mulder often drives Dana to St. John’s but rarely accompanies her inside. Dressed in sneakers and sweats, he spends the time running. He says it clears his mind. The sound of my feet hitting the pavement speaks to me more than any sermon, he claims. She worries he’s running away from his worries, not towards comfort and peace, but he does appear calmer when she rejoins him in the car. And it’s been good for him physically. He’s dropped ten pounds and is as fit and hard-bodied as he’s ever been.
As promised, he takes time off from work to attend every doctor’s appointment. He peppers Dana and Dr. Spizuoco with questions. He reads articles from leading authorities to familiarize himself with all aspects of pregnancy and birth, from the moment of fertilization to several weeks postpartum. He devours guides about month-to-month development, diet and food, nurturing. Other than a couple of Lamaze lessons back when they were expecting William, he has no practical experience, yet he works diligently to fill in the gaps. Dana is touched by his commitment to her and their unborn child.
When the DNA tests come back, Mulder is visibly nervous. She’s nervous, too, though not for reasons associated with government conspiracies and alien plots. Her worries are grounded in statistics about babies born to older women. But the results show the baby is normal. There are no chromosomal abnormalities due to her age or anything else. Her relief is profound.
“Looks like I found myself a man with a spotless genetic make-up and a really high tolerance for being second-guessed after all,” she jokes, referring back to their conversation in Home, Pennsylvania all those years ago. Back when they discussed the natural instinct to propagate. When for the first time in their partnership, he considered her in the role of a mom.
I never saw you as a mother before.
“You’re going to get your little Uber-Scully after all,” he says, showing he remembers their decades-old exchange, too.
“In a world of Peacocks, choose a Mulder.” She leans into him, bumping his arm with her shoulder.
He grins but his upbeat mood is short-lived. He scans the results of the paternity test and grows serious again.
RFLP Inclusion Report
Tested Man: Fox William Mulder
Mother: Dana Katherine Scully
Child: Unborn Girl
Combined paternity index = 533,475
Probability of paternity: 99.9998%
The .0002% bothers him more than it should. Dana assures him the results show he is, without question, the baby’s father.
This doesn’t seem to ease his mind. “I’d prefer it if the report said 100%. Should we have it run again?”
“There’s no need, Mulder. This baby is undeniably yours. The test proves it.”
He nods but says, “Explain the results to me again.”
She knows he’s more than intelligent enough to understand them and he forgets nothing. Two traits she hopes he passes on to their daughter. But he’s looking for assurances and she indulges his neediness.
But when he can’t seem to let it go, she changes the subject, suggesting they rearrange their living space, move all of his work-related things back into his home office, to get the house ready for the baby. Living alone for several years, he had let his various obsessions overtake the entire first floor, much the way nature reclaims an abandoned city. She’s managed to organize a lot of it since retiring, but their home remains far from baby proof.
The project proves distracting. By evening, their living room is once again tidy and usable, and Mulder seems less troubled. He settles on the couch with his laptop to order outlet covers and cupboard door locks and a baby gate for the foot of the stairs.
“Mulder, the baby won’t even be here for three more months, let alone walking.”
“Can’t be too careful.” He orders a toilet seat latch.
“Maybe we should start with some essentials, like diapers and a crib.”
He nods and shops some more. She predicts they’ll be buried in parcels by week’s end.
* * *
A moan of distress startles Dana from a deep sleep. Mulder thrashes in bed beside her, gripped by a nightmare. She grabs hold of his flailing arm.
“No!” He shouts and sits upright. His breath comes in frantic gulps and his eyes dart around the semi-dark room. Sunup is still an hour away. “Shit!”
“What is it, Mulder? What were you dreaming?”
He shakes his head, as if trying to rid himself of the images. He lays back down and blinks at the ceiling.
“Tell me.” She rolls onto her side to face him.
“Bad dream,” is all he says.
She strokes his arm, trying to calm him and coax him to talk.
“They took the baby,” he says at last. He avoids looking at her.
He shrugs. “I found her…in a locked warehouse. It was freezing there.”
“You rescued her?”
“No.” He nearly chokes on the word.
She watches a tear slide down his cheek. “No?”
“She was there, Scully, with William. And Emily! And…” A second tear rolls across his heated skin, joining the first in the fabric of his pillowcase. “And Samantha. They were restrained…on gurneys. Their heads…their heads were…peeled open, their brains exposed.”
“Oh, Mulder…” Dana imagines this nightmarish scenario. The children hurt and in pain. It’s too awful to consider.
“They were alive, Scully, conscious! A chunk of the baby’s brain was missing, hacked away. Butchered. Fuck!”
His fingers curl into the sheets. She can see the white of his knuckles in the dim predawn light.
“I’m so sorry.” She doesn’t know how to allay his fears and comfort him. She rubs circles onto his chest. His heart beats wildly beneath her fingertips. “This is supposed to be a happy time for us.”
“When was ‘happy’ ever in our cards?” He sounds defeated. Resigned to a terrible fate.
Maybe she should feel the same but she doesn’t.
“Do you trust me, Mulder?”
“Then believe me when I say this pregnancy feels different. It feels…good. I’m not worried. Our baby will be fine, I know it.”
“How do you know it?”
“I just do. And for all the times you asked me to trust you on nothing but the strength of your beliefs, I’m asking you to do the same and trust me on this.”
But it’s as if he can’t hear her. Maybe his mind is still filled with the horrible images of his dream. Maybe he imagines even worse. He went through it himself, after all. She chides herself for not being more patient with him after his return. Or years later, when depression finally swallowed him. A delayed reaction to all the trauma he’d endured, going all the way back to the night Samantha was taken. When he was only twelve. Just a boy.
She berates herself anew for giving up and leaving him to fend for himself. It was indefensible. Unforgivable. He has never, ever given up on her. If she apologized every day for the rest of her life, it would never be enough.
She tugs at his arm, hoping to break through his misery. He complies and rolls closer. When she tries to embrace him, he curls up against her with one arm looped over her hip and his ear pressed to her swollen abdomen. She strokes his shoulder, his back. She feathers her fingers into his hair and presses him more tightly to her while listening to him catch his breath.
The room lightens as dawn breaks. He lies still for so long, she starts to wonder if maybe he’s fallen asleep. But he shifts just a little and tightens his hold on her.
“I’m sorry I can’t be more optimistic, Scully.”
Can’t be. Like it’s a foregone conclusion. Unalterable.
“No, it’s not. I’m spoiling everything.”
How can she make him understand, truly understand, he is the center of her world, has been at its center since the first day they met?
“For better or worse,” she reminds him.
“Call me Debbie Downer, but when do we get to the ‘better’ part?”
The baby chooses that moment to make her presence known with a well-placed kick against Mulder’s cheek. He gasps and scrambles to sit up.
“Scully…!” He stares at her belly in wonder.
She takes his hand and places it over their baby’s tiny kicking foot. He waits, still as a stone, through two, three more fluttering thrusts.
“Oh,” he whispers, “she’s going to be a hell of a soccer player.”
Mulder’s moods have always seesawed like a child’s between abject despair and the thrill of simply being alive. He wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s one of the many things she’s come to love about him.
“I’ll order a soccer ball after breakfast,” he promises, before gathering her up in his arms for a heartfelt hug. Then he lunges from bed, pulls on yesterday’s jeans over his boxers, and thunders down the stairs to the kitchen.
The lure of fresh coffee and the pressure in her full bladder work in tandem to pull her away from the comfort of her bed. She hopes with all her heart that Mulder will feel a moment or two of peace today.
When a gift comes unexpectedly, take a moment. Enjoy it. Give thanks. Gratitude is a better ally than anger or vengeance.
Dana knows from experience that parenthood can be wonderful even while it’s frightening or heartbreaking.
Mulder’s experience, however, is lacking. What he knows about parenthood is fraught with doubt and pain. The man who raised him was no role model. The man whose DNA he shares is worse. His relationship with William? Practically nonexistent. He missed nearly every day of the boy’s life. To Fox Mulder, being a father has been defined by distance, cruelty, absence, and the awful ache those things bring. It’s all he knows.
A man can learn things. And a child has a way of shaping the world anew.
TWO MONTHS LATER
As autumn approaches, Dana’s physical discomfort returns. She feels unwieldy. Sex becomes more difficult, but they manage. Visits to her doctor are increased to once a week. The baby is due on October 18, just four weeks away.
“Maybe she’ll come early and we can share a birthday,” Mulder says.
Dana doesn’t want the baby to come early. She’s experiencing a panicky nesting stage, worried the nursery won’t be ready in time. It needs painting. The furniture is still in boxes. There are new baby clothes to wash and put away. When Mulder leaves for work, she starts with a load of whites: crib sheets, burping cloths, t-shirts, and onesies. The task brings back memories of William, mostly good ones, but she cries either way.
Mulder is loving and tender through all of her moods. He’s become better at hiding his apprehension, understanding she has plenty of worries of her own. Her concerns are practical this time, not about alien takeovers and shadowy government conspiracies.
Dana arrives home after a morning of shopping and what was supposed to be lunch with a couple of friends from her stint as a physician at Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital, but which turned out to be a surprise baby shower. Her car is packed with thoughtful gifts: cute little outfits and soft blankets and bibs and teeny-tiny socks and shoes. She’s surprised to find Mulder at home on a weekday up in the nursery. High up on a step ladder, he’s painting stars and planets on the ceiling while humming “Having My Baby.”
“What, no spaceships or aliens?” she asks, staring up at his work.
“No, but check out the Voyager spacecraft.” He points his paint brush. There it is, beyond Pluto, heading off into interstellar space. There is a smudge of gold paint on his chin, splatters of midnight blue on his worn jeans. The Milky Way stretches from one corner to another, sparkling like a heavenly river. He’s no expert artist but the effect is childlike and heartfelt.
“It’s beautiful, Mulder. Thank you.” She scans the room and sees he’s assembled the crib today, too. And there’s a new rocking chair in one corner, out of the way of his paint trays and rollers. “For everything.”
He climbs down from the ladder and sets his paint brush on the canvas drop cloth that’s protecting the hardwood floor.
“How was lunch?” He crosses the room to kiss her.
“They surprised me with a baby shower. You didn’t know anything about that, did you?”
“Well, I’ll need your help unloading the car.”
“That’s what I’m here for.” He smiles and strikes a bodybuilder’s pose.
His outward optimism belies the disquiet she knows he still harbors. Where prayer has helped calm her throughout her pregnancy, he’s found no similar outlet, other than keeping busy. He works like he’s being chased by demons. Maybe he is. Hellish creatures haunt his wheelhouse, after all. But he keeps talk about the X-Files to a minimum, not wanting to upset her, even though she asks and would be glad to listen. He evidently took her at her word when she said she didn’t want that darkness in her home, even though that was years ago, before she left him.
Maybe that was the lesson he learned.
“Shouldn’t we be picking out names?” he asks, changing the subject.
All these months and they haven’t seriously broached this subject. Not that Mulder hasn’t given the baby a different nickname every week. Most are based on whatever fruit or vegetable matches the growing fetus’s size at the time. Little Lime Mulder became Avocado Mulder followed by Mango Mulder and then Eggplant Mulder. This month she’s Pineapple Mulder, though she feels more like Watermelon Mulder to Dana.
“Do you have any suggestions?” she asks. “Are there any names you particularly like?”
“I think Elvis is a pretty name for a girl. Don’t you?”
“No, Mulder. Just, no.”
“Really?” He starts putting lids on paint cans. “Too bad ’cause that’s all I got.”
“What do you think of ‘Katherine’?”
“Your middle name.” He folds up the drop cloth. “I like it. What about her middle name? Can that be ‘Elvis’? Katherine Elvis Mulder…it has a certain ring.”
“I was thinking ‘Abigail.’”
“Is there an Abigail in your family?”
“No, but it means ‘my father’s joy.’”
He grins, the widest, most genuine smile she’s seen on him since before that awful night at the Sugar Factory. “It’s perfect.”
GEORGETOWN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2018
Dana waits until her contractions feel strong, last 45 to 60 seconds each, and occur every five minutes for at least an hour before she slips out of bed and quietly changes from her nightgown into slacks and sweater. Only then does she wake Mulder to drive her to the hospital. She recognizes his panic face as he rushes to get dressed. He pulls on a pair of jeans only to realize he hadn’t taken off his pajama bottoms first. She tries and fails not to laugh. He quickly straightens himself around, grabs the ‘baby bag,’ and, gripping her elbow, walks her to the car. As he’s holding open the passenger door, her water breaks.
He stares and blinks at the wet stain of amniotic fluid spreading quickly down her pants’ legs.
“Better now than after I got in the car,” she says. “Help me back inside so I can change.”
“Do we have time for that?” He’s shaking his head no.
“Yes and it’ll save you from having the car detailed later. Let’s go.”
He tosses the bag into the back seat and they return to the house.
“Wait here,” he says, leaving her in the living room while he jogs upstairs. Seconds later, he returns with an armload of clothes from her dresser. “I didn’t know what to bring, so I grabbed everything.”
She selects clean pants and underwear from the pile. He tosses the remainder on the floor.
“I’ll pick it up later. Get dressed!”
As soon as she’s changed, which given her size takes longer than it should, he again helps her to the car. They drive off in a spray gravel for Georgetown Memorial.
Once there, she's given a hospital johnny, bathrobe, and skid-proof footies, and wonders why she bothered to dress in anything but her nightgown and coat in the first place. It's not like she didn't know the drill. A PA examines her and tells her to get comfortable as it'll be a while yet.
The hours drag as they wait for the baby’s arrival and she's far from comfortable. To pass the time, they discuss old cases, though they haven’t talked shop in ages. By unspoken agreement, they avoid any mention of the Syndicate or conspiracies or William. Instead, they come up with a Top 10 Worst Mutants list.
“Tooms,” Mulder starts them off.
“Was he worse than Flukeman?”
“Maybe not. But he’s got to be on the list. How about Cecil L’Ively, the human torch?”
“He was hot,” she jokes.
“How about Donnie Pfaster?” she asks, serious once again.
“Donnie Pfaster wasn’t hot or a mutant, Scully.”
“He was a human monster, which makes him worse than the non-human ones.”
“It’s so nice to hear you finally admit that we chased non-human monsters. You weren’t so open-minded back then.”
They wait out her next contraction. It doubles her over. She grits her teeth and tries not to cry out.
When it passes, he asks, “What about Virgil ‘2SHY’ Incanto, the fat sucking guy?”
Dana makes a face of disgust. “Yes, definitely. And Eddie Van Blundht.”
“He makes the list if only because you almost kissed him.”
“Oh, Mulder. Surely that doesn’t still bother you?”
His eyes twinkle, giving away his pretense of jealousy. “Moth men?”
“Of course. And Greg Pincus, regional manager of VinylRight.”
“See? You did believe me. My one in five billion.” He grips her hand through another contraction. They’re coming more frequently. “Rob Roberts, the brain-eating mutant, who served questionable burgers at Lucky Boy in Costa Mesa, California.”
Bile rides up Dana’s throat. “Thanks for that memory, Mulder.”
“I vote to add Ellen Adderly to the list, too, the killer chimera in Vermont.”
“Sorry, we can only include mutants from the cases we worked together.”
“Whose rule is that?”
“Mine. If you disagree, I have a whole bunch to add from the months I spent working with John Doggett. Have we got our Top Ten?”
“We need one more. How about Herman Stites, lizard man?”
“That wasn’t really our case, Mulder.”
“Hey, we helped Doggett and Agent Harrison, so I say it counts.”
“Fine, it counts— No, wait, we need to include Guy Mann, were-lizard.”
“Yes, yes, we do. Did I ever tell you he and I had a great man-to-lizard-man talk while polishing off a bottle of wine in a graveyard?”
“Yes, you did, Mulder.”
“We discussed internal logic, external logic, jackalopes. How we both wanted to believe in things that weren't real — or even possible.”
“I’ve heard all this.”
“Did I mention he said that you said you wanted to take a cellphone picture of his junk? Then you attacked him with your lips.”
“That...did not happen.”
“That’s exactly what I said!”
The night passes and they delve more deeply into those old cases in an effort to distract themselves. Dana is thirsty and tired and cranky. Around sunup, a nurse offers her a popsicle. She chooses grape and its cold, wet, sweetness is a relief.
By the time Dana is nearly 8 centimeters dilated, the sun has been up for hours. Her contractions are persistent, stronger, more painful. Despite the pain, she declines an epidural. She doesn’t want anything to slow down or prolong the delivery. The baby should arrive within 60 to 90 minutes, God willing. Mulder is downing his tenth or eleventh cup of coffee.
“Drink much more of that and you’ll be bouncing off the walls,” she says while she awaits the next contraction.
“I’m already bouncing off the walls.” His nervous pacing gives credence to his claim. “I’m worried the baby will come just when I have to pee so badly that I’ll have to decide between going to the men’s room and missing her arrival, or staying and embarrassing myself on the delivery room floor. I can see the headline now: ‘Wife Gives Birth After Husband’s Water Breaks.’”
“Maybe you should go now.”
“I don’t need to go now.”
She wants to swat him in the head. Searing pain rips through her.
Finally, finally, she’s 100 percent effaced, her cervix fully dilated. She’s wheeled into the delivery room. Mulder suits up in a gown, mask, and gloves to join her there.
“Push, Dana!” she hears over and over again. Like she hasn’t been trying for what seems like hours.
Mulder coaches her from the sidelines. Hearing his voice, holding his hand helps buoy her spirits. It makes her realize how much she missed him the last time. But she feels spent. Too old for this. It’s crazy to have a baby at age 54. Why did she think she could do this?
“I can’t do this,” she says aloud, beyond exhausted.
“Yes, you can,” Mulder says. “You’ve done it before and you can do it again. You’re the strongest person I know. Ooh, wait, can you hold off a few minutes, Scully? I left my catcher’s mitt in the car.”
“I wish he was kidding,” Dana tells the doctors and nurses in the room as the next pain builds.
“No worries, Mr. Mulder,” Dr. Spizuoco says. “I haven’t dropped one yet. Dana, you’re going to be fine. The baby’s head is crowning. She’s in perfect position. On your next contraction, I want you to push really, really hard.”
She thought all of her pushes had been really, really hard. When the contraction comes, she grits her teeth and digs down for every last ounce of strength in her. Mulder moves to watch their child come into the world.
“The head is out!” he proclaims. He sounds ecstatic.
Dana takes another deep breath. Pushes and pushes and pushes. And then, just like that, at 11:22 a.m. on Thursday, October 18, their daughter is born. A few seconds later, Katherine Abigail Mulder releases her first lusty cry. The sound is magical.
“You have a healthy girl,” Spizuoco announces.
The room is abuzz with activity that Dana can’t see. She tries to regain her breath. She knows the pediatric docs are checking the baby while Spizuoco monitors her and awaits the afterbirth. Mulder’s head is on a swivel, taking it all in. He flashes her a thumb’s up. He looks proud and relieved and stunned all at once.
“You have a feisty girl!” The pediatric doc hands him his newborn daughter.
The baby’s arms wave wildly. Her crying is the loudest sound in the room. Mulder cradles her in the crook of one arm.
“Hey,” he says and pulls down his mask to kiss her crinkled forehead. He follows the movements of her tiny hands, watches her squirm and scrunch up her little face, which is red and wet and so very beautiful. He brings her closer to Dana but seems loath to relinquish his hold. “Look, Scully.”
“I see,” she says. She watches Mulder fall in love with their child. This little girl is clearly going to be the apple of her father’s eye. And nothing could make Dana happier.
“Shhh,” he says against the baby’s plump cheek and by some mysterious wizardry he quiets her. Reluctantly, he passes the baby to Dana. “Stellar job, Scully.” He kisses her sweat-slicked brow.
“Hello, Katie,” Dana coos.
Katherine Abigail Mulder is flawless. A tuft of soft, dark hair fuzzes her little scalp. She smells like morning mist.
“Her eyes look like yours, Mulder,” Dana says. “Full of wonder.”
She has no doubt this child is theirs. She’ll run as many DNA tests as Mulder needs her to, but she’s already convinced Katie was conceived naturally and they are her parents. She’s been convinced since the beginning.
Mulder leans over the baby, counts her tiny toes and fingers, marvels at her minute nails, her long eyelashes, her shell-shaped ears, which he traces with the tip of his gloved finger.
Over the next several hours, he doesn’t take his eyes off Dana or their daughter, and he can’t stop grinning like a lunatic. He cries openly when Dana puts Katie to her breast and the baby suckles.
“Six and a half pounds of pure perfection,” Mulder boasts, his voice thick with nervous pride.
Tomorrow, they’ll go home to start a new life as a family. Dana expects there will be plenty of challenges. But today, she is over-the-moon happy. Her dreams have come true at last. It’s been a long, heartbreaking road since their IVF attempt all those many years ago. Back when Mulder told her not to give up on a miracle. Who would’ve guessed their miracle would take 18 years to arrive or turn out so well? Yet here is Katie at last. A blessing late in life. Every heart-wrenching step to get them to this moment has been entirely worth it. Happiness is in the cards for them, after all. And Katherine Abigail Mulder is their proof.
(Posted November 17, 2023)
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