The boy slept nestled between them on her bed in the soft, warm light from her bedside lamp.
Mulder ran one finger down his cheek, as soft and delicate as his mother’s kiss. Little fingers curled into tiny fists, holding them by their heartstring. He felt as if his entire existence, the point and meaning of it could be closed in this one pixie-sized hand. They couldn’t stop looking at the child, sparing nothing more than a glance for each other, but even that felt softer somehow, deeper, meaningful to a new degree.
Scully gave Will her pinky finger to hold, new kind of tenderness filling her expression and, taking his sleeping son as his only witness, Mulder blurted out quietly.
“Will you marry me?”
“Mulder” her tone was one of indulgence and mild exasperation.
“I mean it” he insisted, trying to look unafraid that she might not take him seriously “I want to stay and wake up with you, instead of thinking if I will see you today, I want you to push me out of bed because it’s my turn to check on him, I want you to call me because we’re out of milk” his resolve wavered “I don’t want to stand outside that door waiting to be let in”
“You have keys since 1993, you’ve practically moved in”
“You know what I mean” he needed her to understand, how other people do this? Was she really that averse to the idea of marriage? “These past three months, I know it wasn’t easy, for either of us, and I could say that I wouldn’t have made it without you, but it’s much more than that.” His eyes rested on the sleeping baby “you saw the state I was in when I came back, and I pulled a couple of stupid stunts since then, but that was because I didn’t know what to keep from my old life. It’s you, and him, that gave me new purpose, I let myself believe I’m not alone anymore, that there are people depending on me.”
“I don’t want you to change too much” she said with a smile.
“I wanted it all, right away, and it was stupid to rush” he rested his head on the pillow and looked up at her “and you indulge me too much sometimes, you’ve changed”
“We both changed”
“Why don’t you call me out on my BS anymore?”
“Because I realized it lasts longer when you come to those conclusions on your own”
“Is there a reason why you won’t marry me?”
“I didn’t say I won’t”
“You didn’t say you will, either”
“I’m thinking about it”
“What?” She laughed softly as he rolled over onto his back, covering eyes with his forearm.
“I expected something more romantic”
“Did you come prepared?” She asked of hand, getting up and moving Will to his bassinet. When she turned around Mulder was playing with a small, black box.
“You mean this?”
That made her stop, that was new for him. But on second thought, was it? His early morning slideshows, his ready theories, he always had a ticket ready for her when they went out of town for a case. Even when he ditched her to do something extremely stupid, he usually left her with some kind of clue how to find him or what he was doing. Usually. When it came to the two of them doing something together, he usually did come prepared. And this was something they were definitely about to do together.
Mulder read her surprise and got up, kissing her cheek as he passed her on his way to the bathroom.
“I’ll give you a moment to think about it” he said leaving the box on the dresser.
“You’re staying, right?” she said, trying to hide her doubt.
“Yes, tonight” he said without looking back.
There it was, that time-specific answer. What about tomorrow? If she’d say no, would she be saying no to their present arrangement? It didn’t feel like ultimatum, but even Mulder had his pride, didn't he?
Did she think about marriage? Maybe, once or twice, when she saw the couples in Falls of Arcadia.
They didn’t have friends who invited them to fancy dinner parties and the last time she went to something like that was before she even met him. Dear God, that sounded terrible, for the past 9 years, she lived without really having a life, having Mulder turned out to be more than enough. If she did hang out with friends, it was with him and the Gunmen and it was never fancy, at least not in the widely understood sense of the word. Usually it was Frohike’s cooking or their favorite pizza, and arguing over satellite pictures of the coast of Bermuda or nitpicking at the scientific inaccuracies of sci-fi tv shows, sharing popcorn and beer. That was her these days, it was always her, the science geek, the career woman, feeling out of place between mothers and wives and dolphin-safe tuna sandwiches.
She remembered thinking, how fake it felt, how not-them, Mulder in pink polo shirts and she in knit blazers, the stiff atmosphere and CC&R’s. He mocked them shamelessly, looking confident and relaxed, but she couldn’t pretend, she couldn’t fake them. It felt wrong, not only to pretend to be married, but pretend to be these people, Rob and Laura ‘like-the-dish’ Petrie, their total opposites. Maybe if they would be a pair of quirky high school teachers she could pull it off, but to stomach fake-Mulder fake-loving fake-her, that was just wrong. That went beyond her skill-set.
The second undercover assignment as a couple was easier, because they already knew how to be close, she had that to lean on when she had to keep their cover, one layer of lies less and she felt confident enough to make it work. And that first night at the hotel was, to this day, one of her warmest memories of the two of them, together.
And who said they really needed to get married? Their two days old son was sleeping bundled up in his tiny bed and she never even thought she should look for someone other than Mulder to be his dad.
Mulder ran away, faking a smile when in reality he was trembling inside. The fear she might say ‘no’ was melting his resolve fast. He had tonight, whatever she said, he wasn’t going anywhere, but what about tomorrow? Why it was so easy for everyone else? You take your girl out to dinner, you get on one knee, she says yes shedding one happy tear, the crowd cheers and there, it’s official, you’re hers for all the world to see. He really should’ve think this through, ask her out, she probably wanted it that way, like serious people, like adults. Stupid, stupid what if he insulted her, what if she thinks he’s taking her for granted by being too casual about it. What if she’s remembering all the times he did something stupid or reckless, all the stunts that would make a mother cringe. What if he disqualified himself as a parent.
When he came back from the not-quite-dead, she made it perfectly clear that, be it by some miracle of God or science, he was the boy’s biological father. But biological parentage and fatherhood didn’t have to necessarily mean the same thing.
She took care of him, helped him pull himself together, but it felt like something she’d do for him regardless. She was still his friend, and lover, but they never actually discussed their future together.
That was it, they should really talk about it, before he assumed. He could almost hear her in his head
'You know what happens when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me’
Yes, they should talk about it first.
When he came back from the bathroom, the light in the bedroom was already out, only faint blueish moonlight betrayed her, already tucked in. The floor creaked as it always did when he tried to be quiet, but she wasn’t asleep.
“Mulder stop lurking and come to bed” she said quietly “I’m not kicking you out if that’s what you’re afraid of”
He chuckled rounding the bed and climbing in. He expected it to feel awkward, he kinda had some idea what to do if it did, but it wasn’t. She turned to him and snugged under his arm, as if nothing happened, as if she forgot about the whole thing.
“Scully?” She hummed against his chest the way she always did when she was half way gone “you wanna talk about it?” He wasn’t sure if he could sleep without knowing.
“Not exactly” she mumbled, wrapping her arm around his chest.
She hooked one leg cautiously over his thigh, looking for her old place, but winced before she could settle into his side with her cheek on his shoulder. Restlessly, she moved away from him, just a little, but enough to feel the cold air creep in.
‘That’s it’ Mulder thought, she was telling herself she shouldn’t be so close, shouldn’t lead him on, give him false hope. Only her head rested now on his shoulder, her hands folded between them, like a gate closing the road. He could still feel her, but there was room for fear now between them. She sighed heavily when he tucked the sheet around her, mostly to keep her warm, but also to keep her warmth to himself, as long as possible.
“They tell you to sleep while the baby sleeps” she mumbled “but no one said it’ll feel so weird not to feel him inside you”
Mulder chuckled, remembering how just two days ago she complained about the baby kicking and not giving her even an hour of sleep.
“C’mere” she took his hand and rolled over to her other side, pulling him with her. Snuggled into his arms, now wrapped gently around her, her backside nestled into his hips, her back to his chest, Scully finally calmed down, as did he. Feeling her whole, her breathing, her warmth, her scent, she felt like home.
“Better?” He asked, kissing softly her shoulder and neck.
“Infinitely” she breathed, already fading.
He felt her breathing grow deep and even, body sinking heavily into his arms, leaning on him, his hand tucked under her cheek.
From the first night she slept in the foot of his bed, from the first night she slept next to him, from the first night she slept in his bed, all the beginnings, the new chapters in the story of the two of them, this one was the most beautiful, the happiest.
The baby whimpered making him jump. Startled, he tried to get up, but she stopped him squeezing his hand.
“Wait, he’ll settle” and a few seconds later the baby was silent, asleep again.
“How did you know?”
“You do that, too” she mumbled, pressing her lips to his knuckles.
“What?” That made him curious.
“Squirm, mumble something then fall back asleep” she shifted slightly, casually grinding her backside against him, all sleepy breathy voice and languid moves, relaxed and open. Only in the darkness of their bedroom she was like this, and her moves didn’t go unnoticed. He grew stiff against her and pulled her closer making her chuckle and wince at the same time.
“Behave” he heard her smile, but she winced again as she tried to tease him some more.
“Easy” he tried to soothe her, kissing her earlobe “this isn’t going anywhere”
Tracing her ear with the tip of his nose he asked softly “How long?”
“Six, maybe eight weeks, usually” she snuggled closer, a mixed signal if he ever saw one, but it was a reflex to lock his arms around her
“Don’t squeeze me, my breasts hurt” she protested without malice and Mulder caught himself, loosening his grip immediately.
“Sorry” he apologized.
“How are you feeling, besides that” he never asked her, he’d know if he’d ask, he was such an ass.
“Sore, but happy” she breathed, her tone telling him the conversation was over.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps, Mulder” she reminded him, and he didn’t say anything else, just kissed her cheek softly.
“Mulder?” She tried to turn to look at him over her shoulder one ast time.
“I will” she breathed, her lips half an inch from his “I will marry you.”
He forgot how to speak, all he could do, was pull her lips to his. Did the kiss last nine seconds or nine minutes, they didn’t know, but when they broke apart, the world was never again like before.
“And you’re moving in” she finished, turning in his arms, back to where they started, her back to his front, arms gently resting around her.
They fell asleep, safe, loved and cherished, ready to share the love with their little boy who slept peacefully in his crib.
When Will woke her later that night, she found a small, diamond ring around her finger and Mulder sprawled on the bed behind her. His limbs scattered between sheets and pillows, ready to take her back and fold around her like petals of a nocturnal flower.