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By Falling In And In

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Most Like An Arch This Marriage

by John Ciardi

Most like an arch - an entrance which upholds
and shores the stone-crush up the air like lace.
Mass made idea, and idea held in place.
A lock in time. Inside half-heaven unfolds.

Most like an arch - two weaknesses that lean
into a strength. Two fallings become firm.
Two joined abeyances become a term
naming the fact that teaches fact to mean.

Not quite that? Not much less. World as it is,
what's strong and separate falters. All I do
at piling stone on stone apart from you
is roofless around nothing. Till we kiss

I am no more than upright and unset.
It is by falling in and in we make
the all-bearing point, for one another's sake,
in faultless failing, raised by our own weight.


****


April 7th, 2001


Scully is in the kitchen rinsing lettuce when there is a knock at her door. She dries her hands before making her way to the entry, still not entirely used to the amount of space she now occupies. A glance through the peephole reveals Mulder, who looks uncomfortable. She opens the door. "Mulder, come in. I was just getting dinner together."

"Oh. Well, if it's a bad time I can go." He sounds nearly hopeful.

"Not at all."

"Uh, okay then." He walks in and pushes the door shut, seeming uncertain of himself.

"Have a seat. I just want to go check the oven." She disappears into the kitchen for a moment.

Mulder sits on the couch, looking around the room as though it is entirely unfamiliar to him. His right leg bounces like a jackhammer and he whistles a few bars of Freefalling before turning his attention to the rake in Scully's tabletop Zen garden. He traces four circles around a reddish rock, then lines the pebbles up by size.

When she returns to the living room, Scully settles on the loveseat and props her feet on the coffee table. "So," she says. "What's up?"

"You're pregnant," Mulder blurts out.

She looks amused. "I'd noticed that."

He coughs. "Yes, well. It's rather difficult to avoid noticing, isn't it? Because you look as though you have  - snake-like - swallowed an object several times the size of your own head.  So I am assuming there are things we should discuss."

"Discuss?"

Mulder gives her an exasperated look. "Scully? This isn't some meeting with Skinner you're bullshitting your way through, okay? I realize that this is hideously awkward, but let's pretend for a moment that our prior pattern of sexual congress wasn't interrupted for several months by my death."

"I didn't know in Bellefleur, if that's what you're wondering."

"I hoped not."

"I would have told you. And I wouldn't have been so careless with myself."

He draws a stick figure in the sand with the handle of the rake. "Okay. Scully, do you think it's related to what happened to you out there?"

"What, you think the next generation of Mulders wanted an early start on the alien abduction?"

Mulder laughs once and then repeats, "The next generation of Mulders" in an odd voice.

"Oh, come on. You can't have actually thought otherwise?" She is scoffing, but there is a note of uncertainty in her voice.

"No. But it's different to hear you say it. This has been the elephant in the room for almost a week now."

She gets to her feet, walks to the couch, then lowers herself next to Mulder. She pokes him in the ribs. "Elephant? I won't sit idly by as you call me names."

"Your girth is impressive."

"You can't really be single, can you?"

"I guess that's the next question, isn't it?" he says, looking down at his hands.

She smiles in a distant way. "You were dead until fifteen days ago. Maybe you should take it slow before you go trying to make an honest woman of me."

"Are you saying you don't want me around? Come to think of it, you have been acting peculiar."

"Peculiar? Mulder, how on earth is one supposed to act in such bizarre circumstances? I apologize for not talking about this sooner, but you were in a coma." She bites her lip and gazes at her rounded abdomen. "I don't want you to make promises that are too hard to keep. You…you have a habit of disappearing."

He bristles. "Well, excuse the hell out of me. I haven't been on a sightseeing tour of Europe, you realize. Perhaps at some point while they were slicing my chest open or drilling my teeth I was over Europe, but close only counts in horseshoes and grenades."

She closes her eyes. "I'm sorry. That's not what I meant."

Mulder sighs. "Look, I understand your concerns. I do. But I think maybe we've found all we're meant to find."

Scully eyes him warily. "Mulder, don't - "

"What else can I hope to discover? I have proof of both the existence of extraterrestrial life and the government's conspiracy to cover up that fact. My entire family is dead. Maybe this is another chance."

She turns to him and takes his hand. "Mulder, I can't be your savior."

"Some Catholic you are."

Scully chuckles as she leans against his arm. "I mean it. I want you here. I want you involved. But this isn't going to be a grand quest. It's going to be late nights and early mornings and tedious repetition. It's not a means to an end. It's a journey."

"I know."

Scully runs her forefinger over his knuckles. "Do you? There's not going to be any more dashing off to Oregon or Puerto Rico or God knows where. Can you live like that? Can you really let these things go?"

He is silent.

"Because if you can't," she continues, "I can accept that. I know who you are and I knew it when I asked you to help with the fertility treatments. I knew it when I started sleeping with you. But what I can't accept is the possibility that - however well-meaning you are at this moment - you're going to promise me that you'll stay and then leave again when something irresistible pops up."

Mulder exhales slowly, weighing what may be against what is. What he may find against what he has found already. "I can let it go."

Scully believes that he believes himself and is touched. "Well," she says. "Well, okay then."

He reaches out to stroke her hair. "So what do you want to do? Do you want to live separately? Do you want a place together? A creampuff wedding gown and a Barbie Dream House in Reston?"

She snorts. "Spare me. I don't know. I mean, I had planned to just stay here. It's near my mother, it's near work."

He looks puzzled. "Near work? I thought you were thinking about teaching at Quantico."

"I was, but it's an hour away and I don't want to deal with the commute."

"My will, Scully. You know there's no need for you to -"

"Well, you're not dead anymore," she says sharply. "I've already contacted your attorney about having the money transferred back to you."

He looks shocked. "What? Why? I don't want it. I didn't want it before and I don't want it now. You know as well as I do how my parents ended up with it. That was emergency money. It was Go-To-Antarctica money. We don't have to go back to work until we feel like it, if at all. The interest alone is -"

 Scully does not want to discuss this further. She taps her forefinger against her thumbnail. "There's more to my not teaching at Quantico than just the commute. Rumor has it that a Supervisory Special Agent position at the DC Field Office is going to open up in August and that my name's on the short list. Actually, I heard my name is the short list."

Mulder whistles. "Day-um. Who've you been making friends with while I was away?"

She ducks her head, but is clearly pleased. "You're not upset, are you? I mean, that I won't be returning to the X-Files? This is just such a huge opportunity for me."

"I'd say you've served your time down there. Especially since I ended up corrupting you."

"Mmm. It turned out okay, as far as punishment assignments go."

"Gee, thanks." He slides a tentative hand over her belly. "Scully? How did this happen?"

Her eyebrow arches like a cat.

"I mean, I know how," he amends. "But I thought you …"

"Me too. Mulder, when I was in Africa I saw things that I still can't explain. That craft, the ship - whatever it was - it seemed to have…regenerative powers of some kind. And I touched it."

"And you think it may have somehow restored your ability to conceive?" He chooses his words carefully. One wrong step and Scully will retreat to the safety of her hallowed skepticism.

She shrugs. "I don't know what I'm saying. Maybe there's not an easy answer. I had a vision of some sort on that journey. Of a man. He said some truths are not for me to know."

"And you can accept that?"

"I'm pregnant, Mulder. What is there to accept or not accept? I have had ultrasounds and an amniocentesis and this child is perfectly normal in every way. You told me never to give up on a miracle. So yes, I suppose I can accept the rest on faith."

Neither one of them mentions the fact that their world is full of stones better left unturned. Emily-stones.

"Do you think it means anything with regard to your cancer? The chip in your neck?"

She runs a finger over the scar. "I'm certainly not going to chance finding out the hard way."

He nods. "I think that's for the best."

She squeezes his hand, then slips an arm behind his back. "I missed you. Sometimes I had these…experiences where I swear I could hear you."

"I had them too." He pulls her close and rests his cheek on top of her head. "Thank you for feeding my fish. They said to tell you hi."

She smiles against his shirt. "Why don't you bring them over here, Mulder? They could make themselves comfortable if they wanted to. I have a little drawer where I could keep their things."

"I'd miss them terribly."

"Well, you could come too. I have a little drawer where I could keep your things as well."

He takes her by the shoulders and sits back, holding her at arms' length. "Dana Scully. Are you asking me to shack up with you?"

She blushes. "It seems the next logical step on my wanton path, now that you've gone and ruined me."

He cups her face in his hands. "You've just made my landlord the happiest man in the world."