It’s been two months since he’s been dead, and she hasn’t had the strength to go over his things just yet. Her mother has offered to help. The Gunmen have offered to help. Even Skinner and Doggett. But she won’t have any of them. She doesn’t want to break in front of anybody. This is something she has to do by herself.
Scully enters the empty apartment for the umpteenth time and walks directly to the fish tank. She should move it to her place, she has planned to. But not yet. She doesn’t want it there to remind her, each waking moment, that Mulder is not coming back. She feels that well-known itch at the tip of her nose and forced herself to breathe calmly.
‘This too shall pass’, she thinks about her sister, how she’d give the best advice, the perfect words to keep her calm. But she isn't there either, she never will. And a thought that was supposedly going to help her go through that hard moment sends her spiraling down to an ugly cry on Mulder’s bed.
Scully wakes up a while later, a little better after letting her feelings overwhelm her. She cleans her face in the bathroom and decides to start at the lowest part of his closet. That’s probably the easiest part. Shoes shouldn't have too many memories attached to them.
It’s surprisingly easy, she finds. After putting most of his shoes in a bag to give to charity (only saving his basketball sneakers, something for the kid to remember him), she finds a thin square gift-wrapped box. She wonders if it might have been for her. Mulder hadn’t forgotten about her birthday that year —though the video game-inspired sunglasses he gave to her were not the best gift she had ever gotten. Maybe it was for one of the Gunmen… when were their birthdays, anyway? She should try and find out now. She opens it in an attempt to discern who the gift might have been for. And she regrets it immediately. Sobs start again and she leaves the apartment in a mess. She’s definitely not ready to do the cleaning yet.
Mulder has started feeling himself again. It's been a week and things between him and Scully have started to calm down. She's come today bearing gifts: pizza and beer, just like old times. Only she's taking decaf iced tea. He's offered to drink that too, to lessen her craving, but she insists that she doesn't care.
Scully comes in from the kitchen handling a piece of clothing he hasn’t seen in quite a while.
“Uhm, Mulder, what is this?”
He clearly remembers the exact day he bought it, about a year ago.
It was 5 pm and he gathered his things to leave.
Scully raised her eyes from her desk by the door in surprise.
“You leaving already?” she checked her watch. It was quite early for him. “Have you finished your report?”
He had been stalling at the last case report, more than usual, that was. The death of Karin had affected him more than he wanted to admit, and it was making it difficult to write a report that did her justice.
“I’ll finish it during the weekend,” he said, showing her how he introduced the files into his bag so that she’d believe him. He most probably wouldn’t, and he’d be writing it on Monday morning when she arrived, but at least he would make an effort… or not. “I have that doctor’s appointment—”
“Aw, that’s right,” her face lit up. He still wasn’t so sure about the whole IVF thing, though he tried his best not to show. Just seeing her so happy was reason enough for him to get involved. "Maybe you wanna come and give me a hand?"
He knew it was way out of line but, lately, they had been dancing around the limits of their flirting. And apparently thinking about having a child together stretched that line a little further. He wouldn’t be one to complain.
“Sure!” she quickly replied and got up, and Mulder was instantly scared that she was going to grab him there and then. He released his breath when she moved past him and to the back wall. Grabbing a stool she jumped up, reaching for the top shelf below the ceiling window. Ha, he thought, you are so wrong…
He turned around, looking at her with such a contented look.
“Hmpf,” she mumbled, trying to find what she was aiming for. But that something wasn't there anymore. “Looks like you finally found who those tapes that weren’t yours belonged to after all?”
“Yep, Alvin was so happy to get them back, he said he wouldn’t be biting my neck for at least a week.”
He hoped she got the hint that they hadn’t been there for a long while. After she had found the tapes the first time, he changed his storage point. And kept changing them afterward whenever she found them. It was one of the games they played. “Mulder, I found your tapes again”, she would triumphantly say every time. She hadn’t told him she had found them up there. It had been the last place he had stored them before finally giving them away to Frohike when he realized he wasn't using them anymore.
“Well, then I guess I can’t be of any help,” she added with a smirk going back to work.
Oh, you will, Scully, you will, he thought as he was leaving.
Ready to give his sample away in that small donating room, Mulder didn’t need any of the multimedia offered to get going. Just thinking about Scully did the trick so quickly. He’d been “saving energy” for a couple of days, doctor’s orders. It had felt neverending but also satisfying. In a way, he felt relieved to be able to do this while thinking about her without feeling guilty. Even if he was thinking about her in ways he shouldn’t, at least this time she had asked him to. Somehow he hoped that by thinking about her while he released his soldiers they would be more focused on the prize… That was getting too weird. He chuckled as he removed the thought from his mind while he closed the lid on the jar. He wished it would be enough. He’d do it again and again if need be.
“This is for Miss Scully,” he cleared his throat at the reception desk.
“Thanks, Mr. Scully. We’ll let you know when we are ready for your wife to come in.”
“Thank you,” he smiled at the desk clerk lady. No need to correct her. That common mistake never got old, and Scully wasn’t there to frown upon it.
It was a nice evening, so he decided to walk home. It wasn’t that far away and he was so happy, feeling complete with a job well done. If only everything could be as easy as putting his seed in a plastic jar…
His thoughts were paused when an item in a store window caught his attention. He came to a dead stop, not believing what his eyes were seeing. Might this be a sign?
He didn’t think twice and entered the shop to get that piece of clothing.
“Well, it is a Yankees onesie,” he answers her nonchalantly.
“Yes, I can see that, Mulder,” she sits by his side on the couch, leaving the white striped onesie on his lap. “What I mean is… why did you have this?”
When has she found it? Even though she doesn’t say, he knows she found it while he was away. For fuck’s sake, why can’t they talk like normal people? Why do they have to dance around every issue?
“I just saw it and, well, I thought a kid of mine must have it… But, well, that’ll never happen, so…” He grabs it sadly to put it away, but she takes it back.
“I think it’ll look wonderful on him… or her,” she adds placing the garment over her swollen belly.
Does that mean…? He looks at her, frowning his brow. When will they talk about it? Surely, never. The Gunmen are sure the baby is his, but he is too afraid to ask her. And she doesn’t seem eager to have ‘the talk’ either. Maybe this little sign is her way of reassuring him. He doesn't care, actually. He would love that kid no matter whose it was from.
“Hey, you ready?” Mulder enters Scully’s apartment and when he hears nothing, he starts looking around for her.
He has only been away for an hour, having left quickly to feed the fish and get some clean clothes. It’s been nice to have spent all of his time with her. He wonders when she’s going to ask him to move in completely. He’s secretly hoping for it. And most of his things are already at her place. But he doesn’t want to push his luck. He’s been getting some action (praise pregnancy hormones!), though not as much as they would like to, because of that abruption scare. And both of them not having to go to work has been weird but also challenging. They'd spent a lot of time together before, but not like this: just them, nothing work-related. One would imagine they have found time to “talk about things”... But they haven’t.
He wants to ask her: “do you want me to move here?” But he’s also afraid of her. Her horny attacks are almost as common as her angry ones. Luckily the sad ones are more scarce these days. He understands though, she's been through a lot. He just wishes he could read her better. Not knowing which mood she's in makes him uncomfortable, he used to be so good at that. I guess I just need more time.
“Scully?” He knocks at her bedroom door. He’s been in there a lot lately, but he still somewhat feels like a foreigner. Best to ask for permission.
“I’ll be out in a minute!” she yells behind the door. “Fuck!”, she mutters, but he hears her.
“Honey, are you okay? Do you need help?” He asks figuring she’s, probably, having some trouble getting dressed.
Scully must have blushed at the use of that term. Mulder knows she likes it even though she tries to make him not say it. Hopefully it helped to ease her. He frowns now, scared of her answer, because she's taking so long. I’m fine, I can handle it, he knows she’ll probably say. If he’s unlucky he’ll also get a slightly rude I’m just pregnant, not crippled.
Surprisingly, he hears her sigh on the other side of the door and a muffled thump on the mattress. What the hell is she doing?
In the blink of an eye, he’s opening the door and coming to the rescue. But he doesn’t really know with what. She’s half-dressed and lying on the bed, with her right foot on top of her left thigh, her leg crossed in a weird angle. He wants to know what she's been up to but figures best to let her talk.
“So… how can I be of service, m’lady?” He bows extravagantly.
Being playful like that always helps. She’s still so stubborn and doesn’t want to ask for things. Admitting she needs help is something she will probably never do.
She starts sitting up, untangles her legs and hands him a clipper while her cheeks turn red instantly.
“I hate to ask you this, but—”
“No problem,” he spares her the embarrassment of uttering her question, grabbing the tool from her hand as he kisses her lightly on the lips. That’s something he’s a pro at, guessing her needs and fulfilling them before she has to ask him.
“Sorry… I used to be able to do it by myself but…” She covers her face with her hands, “I guess I’ve become too fat—”
“Hey, stop that,” he says placing her left foot on his lap. “You’re growing a baby, you are allowed to have a pedi—”
“You’ll paint my nails too?” she asks amused.
“If you want me to. I used to do it for my grandma Ann.”
“You gotta be kidding me,” she laughs, and he marvels at his favorite sound in the world.
“A long, long, while back,” he adds at her confused face. “Ten-year-old Fox needed each and every cent he could get: Star Trek comics weren’t cheap!”
She laughs harder and he wishes he could get her to do that every single second. She says she would have loved to see that and he tells her that once he even did her auntie Andrea’s nails. “Special anniversary number”, he shrugs.
He trims her toenails as best he can, it’s been a while since he’s done that to someone. And he doesn’t usually care if his nails are perfectly trimmed, but he cares for hers. When he seems happy with the result, he gets up to leave the clippers away and she starts getting up after him.
“Wait, wait, wait. Wasn’t I going to paint them?” He pushes her gently back into sitting.
“It’s okay, Mulder. You don’t need to do that, I was just joking.”
“No way, I feel like I need to prove to you that I can do a great job at painting nails.”
He doesn’t even have to ask where the nail polish is. He’s been helping her around the house so much these last few weeks, he’s already memorized where everything is. He opens the second drawer: bath bombs on the left, nail polish on the right. There are more colors than he’s ever seen her wear, but he chooses the red bottle —the one she seems to prefer— and goes back to the room.
“Nice choice,” she smiles at him while he slightly shakes the little bottle in his palms. “Wow, you really are a pro.”
It takes him longer than expected and the result is not as good as he remembered, but Scully reassures him that they are perfectly okay.
"You're only saying that because we're terribly late," he complains as he helps her out of the bed. Not that she needs it, of course, but he guesses a 41 weeks pregnant body must not be easy to get up. "I'll rework them when we're back home later," he reassures her.
Mulder offers her the dress that's been waiting for her and she gets dressed in a heartbeat. She's so beautiful… And even when she complains about gaining weight, he keeps telling her —because he actually believes so— that she's never been prettier. Might be the casual clothes, the happy mood, the pregnant glow… Or maybe just the fact that he loves her more each day.
He should tell her so. But at this point, it kind of seems like he doesn't know how to utter the words. He's already told her in so many different veiled ways, and a simple "I love you" seems too bland. She already knows, as well as he knows she loves him. As well as he knows that the baby is his even though she hasn't said the words. They just don't talk about these things.
The doorbell rings as he is helping her with the jacket and it startles them.
"You waiting for any visitor?" he asks as he rushes to the door.
Scully nods a quick no with her head and rolls her eyes when he opens the door and sees who's on the other side.
"Mom, you are so impatient—"
"Well, hello to you too," Mrs. Scully says rushing in and hugging her. "I've been waiting for half an hour, you said 4.30, so I started to worry… What have you been doing?" she asks with a smirk and turning to him.
He raises his hands to plead for his innocence but reddens a bit. She knows, she definitely knows. Scully asked him to keep it a secret from her. Not because she was ashamed or anything, but because she didn't want her mom prying into her personal life. But he knows the look Margaret Scully is giving him, and she knows. Besides, she would have to be blind to not see that his imprint in her daughter's house has increased ever since he came back from the dead.
"We'll have the girls over tomorrow afternoon, don't forget that," Maggie changes the subject like a pro when she senses her daughter's frown upon her comment and noticing that she's not giving anything away. "Lenka will be coming earlier to help set everything up."
"Okay, but, please, don't do anything too fancy, I don't want this... baby shower thing. I don't even know your parish friends that well."
"You would if you came to church more often, instead of being so engrossed with your work. And I blame you for that too, young man."
Mulder raises his hands again. Don't tell me! I'm unemployed and have been dead for a while… so definitely not my fault, this time at least. He's glad he's managed to not blurt his thoughts out. Probably Scully would find it funny, but Mrs. Scully might not, and he wants to stay on good terms with her.
"Anyhow, let's go get that supper you promised. I'm famished!" she complains, grabs her daughter's arm and rushes out the apartment. "And, by the way, you should change your salon. Those toes look like they've been painted by a ten-year-old girl."
Scully laughs and Mulder decides to stay quiet at that unnoticed attack on his manliness. He decides there and then that his next quest is going to be to learn to paint toenails and redo them in a couple of days. He's got a lot of free time, after all.
Unfortunately, he doesn't get to it. Events are rushed after that and before they know it, they are officially blessed with a healthy lovely kid that takes up all of their time.
Even more unfortunately, he is rushed away from his newfound family so as to save their lives. He doesn't want to leave, but he has to if he wants to stay alive; if he wants her to stay alive. If he wants William to stay alive. There's nothing he wouldn't do for the woman he loves and for the little boy of their own they finally have.
"I love you, Scully. I'll solve this, I'll get back to you before you know it," he kisses the boy's head tenderly and then takes pleasure in her lips for one last time before rushing out.
He has just returned and he has to leave. Not enough time. He'll never have enough time by her side.
"Dana, sweetie. That nail polish is so badly chipped. Let me remove it for you, will you?"
Maggie has been trying to help her daughter with her grandson a lot these days. Dana wouldn't ask for it, but she knows so well what it is to take care of an infant without the father being around. Besides, though it would be unfair for Charlie Jr, Matthew and Marcie to say so, William might be her most beloved grandson. He's been dearly wanted for so long. A miracle. Maggie had prayed for him to come to life so much and now she needs to be with him as much as possible, afraid that he'll disappear if she is not around.
"Dana?" She asks again.
Her daughter is lost in thought most of the time, Maggie is so concerned about her. Sometimes she seems even worse than when he was dead.
Of course she hadn't heard.
"Your nail polish," Maggie repeats, calmly. "I was offering to remove—"
"No," she dismisses her and keeps folding her laundry.
"I really don't mind. I know how busy you are with everything, and it's—"
"I said no!" Dana yells and Maggie is instantly angered. It is not like her daughter to raise her voice that way, and she won't tolerate that behavior. No matter how tired or sad she is, this is not acceptable.
Maggie is about to reprehend her daughter when she sees the sadness on her face, a tear threatening to drop. And suddenly everything makes sense.
"He painted them, didn't he?"
She isn't expecting an answer, she knows, and Dana just nods, closing her eyes to prevent the flowing of tears.
Maggie rushes to the bathroom, trying to find where her daughter stores her beauty things. There it is.
"Come here, let's coat it so it lasts longer," she calls for her, sitting on the sofa, showing Dana the transparent nail polish she brought back with her.