The meeting with Skinner was finally over, but Mulder couldn’t push away the feeling of deja vu . The thing was, he was not reliving the bank incident. Instead, the thing that came to mind was a similar meeting that had happened some months ago.
Blame has to be assigned somewhere , Skinner had said. Back in Dallas during that bomb threat, he was led by a gut feeling and it had allowed them to clear a building in fourteen minutes. Then, there had been thousands of lives saved against five unaccounted bodies. Now, there were dozens saved against one dead woman. However, they did not care, it was all the same: Why were you there and why didn’t you save everybody? No one cared about the thousands he did save because of his going on a hunch. Bernard Oates could have blown up the whole building and killed dozens of people if not for Mulder. Thanks to his going off the books, there had been just one casualty. But, anyway, they had managed to blame him for that too, just because this death had been caused by his gun. He felt badly enough himself, no need for others to strike at the heart. He knew he should have tried harder to save Pam, he should have done better. He couldn’t escape the feeling that the whole incident should have ended differently.
“We’ll get some coffee,” Scully declared once they were on the elevator, pressing the first-floor button instead of the basement’s. “I want you to explain what exactly happened yesterday. And don’t dare say again it was a feeling. Or that his jacket was puffed like you just told Skinner. I can tell when you’re lying.”
She had actually become better at reading him, but he was sure she still wouldn’t be really interested in his true story. It was too far away from her alley.
They entered their usual coffee shop across the road and Scully offered to pay. Next time you’re buying , she mouthed while she stood behind a young agent he thought he could recognize in the queue. They walked forward in silence, not wanting to discuss the case in a room full of FBI personnel. The walls had ears and he had enough of a reputation already.
"Two large, thank you," Scully ordered once they reached the end of the line. "Oh, make one decaf," she added.
Mulder smiled for a second. It would be hard for her to adjust, that was for sure. Probably even more difficult for him. Cranky, no-caffeine, morning Scully was not something he was looking forward to. But they would manage. It was for a good cause.
The barista offered their cups, and leaving the coffee shop, they walked down 12 th street towards the Smithsonian Gardens. It was a lovely day outside, almost spring-like. Walking around the open space would do him good.
“So?” Scully poked again when they were finally alone. “How did you know?”
“I had seen it before,” he just answered, sipping on his coffee. “You’ll probably throw one of your science-based explanations at me, but I know how I felt. Like I had lived that day over and over. Like we had died in that bank a dozen times. Like I was there to fix that.”
She eyed him wildly. She was biting her tongue and doing her best not to give him her Freudian, Geschwindian or whoever-the-scientist-of-the-day-was explanation for what she thought that he thought he had felt.
“Then, why did the day stop repeating itself?”
Wow. He wasn’t expecting that . Scully accepting his theories was a once in a year experience. He wasn’t too sure he wanted to already spend his ticket this year. It was still early March, after all. So he decided to dodge it all away.
“It was all wrong because you were dying in there. And you can’t die, remember?” He had been using that line for a couple of months, still didn’t get old. “Also, I promised you that you were going to have your baby, so, again, you cannot die yet.”
Scully stopped on her tracks and touched her lower belly. Was it too soon to joke about that? They were waiting for the results on the first —and hopefully last— try on IVF. Mulder was certain it was going to work. Scully, and her self-deprecating knowledge of how the procedure usually worked, was not so sure about it. So he tried to cheer her up every time he could, and he thought he was doing that back there, but his choice of words had probably not been the best. As usual.
“Sorry, I know you don’t like me joking about it,” he backtracked. “But I promise, it’s going to work. I can feel it.”
“No, it’s okay,” she regained her composure and started walking again. “I’m just a little anxious. I’m going in for the blood test on Friday. It’s probably gonna work,” she said, sipping on her decaf.
“I mean, I have A+ sperm, you know? I had it tested in college. Top motility, they said. Nurse Evans, I think her name was, said she had never seen faster sperm. Of course, I had to tell her that I could be slow if need be, but anyway...”
He was just rambling now, but the corner of Scully’s mouth was silently rising behind her coffee cup, so it was completely worth it. Dodging the drama once again.
“Hmm,” she abruptly stopped her gulp and started searching inside her coat pockets. “This reminds me… Here,” she offered him a piece of folded paper.
Taking it and unfolding it, he uncovered a check for $6,000.
“Yesterday you said that your landlord check would bounce if you didn’t deposit your pay soon. I shouldn’t have let you cover for half of the procedure. It was too much to ask for.”
“Hey, hey. Stop right there," he faced her, putting up his puppy eyes that he knew she couldn't resist. "If I recall correctly, you didn’t ask for anything. I offered. I insisted . It’s the least I can do. Well, the second least,” he grinned.
“Money is not a problem. Trust me. I just keep it in different accounts. Langly’s orders,” he shrugged and proceeded to tear the check. “Please, let me do this right.”
He felt like telling her that he wanted to be involved in every way possible, but he didn’t want to scare her yet. She had too much on her plate and needed not to be anxious about it. He had almost blown the whole thing by pushing her away after the whole Diana business a couple of weeks back. He had promised himself to be on her side from then on. Mulder had wanted to do this from the beginning. He needed to redeem himself.
“You’re doing more than enough. I told you this was not your fault.”
Then why did he feel like it was? Like everything was always his fault? Like he carried all the burdens of the world?
“Well, anyhow, I want to do more. I really want to be involved.” There, he said it. He couldn’t imagine how good it felt taking that load off his mind. “If you want me to, that is.”
“I’d be happy to. We’d be happy to,” she added touching the place where their mix of genes would be resting and evolving.
It felt like the perfect moment to make his move, to try and kiss her again. He’d been wanting to try again since they had been interrupted by that damned bee. Every waking hour he kept thinking about her and how everything would have been different, how everything could still be different if he’d chosen to be brave. But he hesitated once more and the moment passed.
“Anyhow, we’ve been diverging," she shrugged her head and changed the subject like she usually did when things got uncomfortable. "As I was saying, as much as this was not your fault, that woman’s death wasn’t either. I can see you’ve been brooding about it. But I heard her, Mulder. She said this never happened before . Maybe that was her fate, there was nothing you could have done. You need to stop beating yourself up about things that you can’t change.”
Scully talking about fate was a new wonderful tune. His crazy theories were little by little entering her conscience and he loved her even more for it. Especially when this seemed like exactly the thing that he had been needing to hear all day long.
Mulder nodded. She was totally right, as she always was. Checking his watch he turned around. They should be going back.
"You really think this will work?" Scully asked, out of the blue, right before they entered the Hoover Building.
He would have loved to hear the news firsthand, but she wanted to go alone to the doctor’s appointment and he respected her wishes. He waited not-so-patiently at home for her to call him with the news for about ten minutes before deciding to head to her place.
Mulder knocked on her door but she wouldn't answer, and he feared the worst. Typical of Scully, trying to face her problems all alone. He wouldn't have it. Not this time.
Grabbing the keys she had given him for emergencies, he opened the door and stormed in, looking for her. After checking every room, he realized she hadn't arrived yet, so he sat on the sofa.
About half an hour later her keys in the lock took him out of his dozing.
"Hey, I'm in here," he welcomed her, not wanting to startle her too much and receive another gunshot for it.
Her face was unreadable. Was that her panic face?
"Are we pregnant?"
He realized he should have asked differently once the words were out of his mouth. Something like Did it take? would have been more appropriate. But he was too nervous to measure his wording.
"We… are…" she stammered.
And those two words seemed like the most beautiful sound in the world.
Mulder took the three steps separating them and, grabbing her jaw, kissed her lips. It was totally instinctive. But she didn't seem to reject his lips, she was welcoming them, actually.
Mulder didn't linger too long, no biggie , quickly moving for a forehead kiss —their kind of go-to sign of affection— as he held her hands to his chest.
"I told you this would work, I knew it."
"Maybe we should call her Pam…" she spoke over him.
Her ? Mulder was bummed. They were having a girl? How did she know already? The embryo was no more than a month old!
"It's a she ?" he felt the need to ask, and she eyed him as he should already know. "Oh, yeah. The female power."
He remembered she had actually told him a month back. The genetic testing of the embryos. It had delayed the implantation but the doctors felt they needed to make sure everything was okay with the embryos since her ova had been frozen outside of their facilities. The tech lab had chosen the better three samples for the first round and they were, coincidentally, all female. The girls are the strongest, it doesn't surprise me , he had joked.
"I told you. This whole thing. It's fate."
Mulder wanted to hug her. He felt a thousand times more excited than she seemed to be, he needed to calm down.
To hell with all that. They were having a baby. He hugged her with all that he had and kissed her head.
It had been a long night, but Scully was finally resting after giving birth to the small bean. Mulder had been sitting sentinel in a chair beside Scully’s hospital bed more times than he could count, but never before for a happy occasion. So this was refreshing.
Pamela Ann Mulder was resting, too, in a bassinet between her parents. Mulder should also be resting, but it was the middle of the day and he didn't want to look away from her for even a second. He didn't want to miss a thing. He hadn’t known how much he desired to have a family until Scully had asked him about it in the most awkward way. Suddenly it seemed like the only thing he cared about in the whole world.
In a whisper, so as not to wake the two most beautiful women in his world, he started telling the baby her story .
Little did he know on that awfully repeated Monday morning, nine months later he would be holding his firstborn. And yet, here they were.
"...and the heroine stood in front of your dad, saved his life, your mom's, and those of dozens of other people; so that's why you're called Pamela," Scully murmured, finishing the story for him.
"Sorry, honey. Did I wake you?"
"No. I've been dozing on and off for the whole morning. How many more times are you going to tell her that story?" she groggily turned her head towards him, opening her eyes.
He’d been talking to the baby in her belly every night. Telling her how brave her mom was, how brave Pam had been, and how brave she would turn out to be.
“Every Monday until the end of time.”