Spoilers: Per Manum
Disclaimer: Still don't own them and always put them away dry after playing with them
Beta Kudos: to xdks who keeps me on the straight and narrow
"Ah, shi--oot!" Mulder pulled his finger back and inspected the small indentation Abby had made in it. It was no wonder Scully had been reluctant to continue nursing when the twins started to teethe. Those little teeth were sharp. Abby just giggled as he nursed his finger.
"Daddy, want out." Amanda tried to slink down in her high chair, but the straps stopped her. "Stuck, Daddy." Her mouth turned down in a pout and Mulder knew he had seconds to avoid a tantrum.
"Shh, baby, come here." He pressed the button to the restraints and caught her as she slid down. He was rewarded with a sloppy oatmeal kiss. She wiped her hands along his t-shirt leaving two smears of wet cereal. It was a good thing he hadn't put on his work shirt yet; the t-shirt wasn't going to make it through breakfast clean. He settled Amanda on his lap and turned back to where Abigail was decorating her high chair tray with oatmeal.
She lifted one chubby hand, full of the cereal. "Daddy have some?"
Mulder shook his head, a big smile lighting his face. "No thank you Abby, you can finish it all."
"Done, Daddy." She tried to dislodge the sticky mess from her hand and ended up flinging it towards Mulder. He looked down in dismay as it landed on his pants. How Scully managed this every morning without getting covered head to toe in cereal was a mystery.
"Down, Daddy." Abigail lifted her arms in the air.
"Just hold on a minute, sweetheart, Daddy has to clean your sister's hands first." He headed to the sink with Amanda, cleaning her up as best he could. She was reluctant to allow him to put her down and wrapped herself around his leg in protest when he did. She was like a weight as he moved over to retrieve Abby.
When he pulled Abby out of the high chair he discovered she probably had more oatmeal outside than inside. He carried her to the sink at arm's length, though it was a moot point. Pulling her out had already deposited more drops of the gummy cereal on his shirt.
As he plopped Abby beside the sink, Amanda decided she wanted to join her sister. "Me too, Daddy."
He looked down as she tried to climb up his leg. "Just a minute, baby." He ran the water and wetted a cloth, but wasn't quite sure where to start.
A scraping sound from behind caught his attention and he turned to find Abby pushing a chair over to the sink. He laughed as she managed to push it against the cupboards and climb up. Scully claimed Abby was going to be payback for all the ditching and crap he'd put her through over the years. He lifted her up and sat her down beside her sister. "What am I going to do with the two of you?"
Abby grabbed his face and pulled him in for a kiss. "Funny, Daddy." Not to be outdone, Amanda reached around her sister and pulled at his shirt, leaving wet marks.
Mulder scooped them both to him in a big hug. They were the delight of his life and he couldn't imagine living without them, or their mother. God, he loved them so much, but was thankful every day that there were only two. They could be a handful at times. Maggie echoed Scully when she reminded him, often, that it was payback time. He still marveled that things had worked out as well as they had, though Scully's recent health problems were a worry.
He checked the time; Maggie should be here soon. Scully had looked so pale and worn when she went to bed last evening. When Skinner called with a new assignment, Mulder had called Margaret and asked her to help out for the day. He hated the thought of working on a Saturday, but Skinner had insisted he just needed a consult and that it would only take a few hours.
With a twin on either hip, Mulder turned and surveyed the breakfast nook. It could wait until he got his princesses cleaned up. And his clothes changed. Skinner wouldn't appreciate him turning up covered in oatmeal.
He headed towards the stairs. If they cooperated, he'd even have enough time to grab another coffee.
* * *
Exiting the bathroom, Scully checked the clock next to the bed and noted the time. The squeals from downstairs had tapered off a while ago, sometime after Mulder had tiptoed in to grab a clean suit from the closet. She knew he'd be leaving for work soon, but she hoped the stillness that had descended meant they could find a quiet moment to talk before he left. But not quite yet; she still had a few minutes to wait.
Scully turned toward the desk, looking for something to distract her thoughts. On the corner, half obscured beneath a pile of papers, sat the baby books she had been meaning to update, if only she could find the time. She pulled out one of the slim volumes, ignoring the papers above that slid to the side, and gently thumbed backward through the unfinished pages. There were so many memories in here, waiting to be sorted and arranged. An envelope tucked between two sheets held locks from the girls' first haircuts. Amanda's hair had grown full and thick, the curls dangling into her eyes. At the time, Abby hadn't needed a cut yet, her hair so much finer and thinner, but Scully had taken a snip of it anyway. She liked to refer to the color as strawberry blonde, but Mulder was right--it was decidedly red. Poor child.
Flipping back a few more pages, she encountered several photos of herself from her pregnant days, mostly snapshots that Mulder had taken while she was sleeping, the only time he could get near her with a camera. She smiled at the conjured image of him tiptoeing up behind her, careful not to wake the sleeping bear. And she had been a bear. The man had been a saint to forgive her many foibles during the difficult pregnancy. She had never been more grateful than when her hormones finally leveled off and her equilibrium returned, letting her finally feel herself again. When she thought back to her paranoia during those days, especially during the bed rest, she was ashamed of her doubts about Mulder's commitment to her and to fatherhood. Once the twins were born, he had taken to it all so naturally--although, at times, he was more like a third child himself. But she supposed that was just part of his charm.
Her anxieties about the house had been unfounded, too. In fact, living with Mulder had been the easy part--at least, after she'd learned to ignore the dirty socks all over his side of the room. The hard part had been negotiating the changes in their partnership. All of their priorities had shifted, precipitated by that simple request she had made of him seemingly so long ago. She never could have predicted everything that would come of it. Including this latest development.
Sighing at that thought, Scully dared a glance at the nightstand. She had stalled long enough. It was time to talk to Mulder.
* * *
Scully was surprised by how quiet things were when she descended the stairs. The open floor plan allowed a clear view of the family room as she entered the kitchen. Above the front end of the couch, two little heads were visible, both fixed toward the vibrant images on the television screen. Scully frowned. It wasn't like her girls to be so oblivious to her proximity. She briefly considered going in and shutting off the noisy box, but their preoccupation would allow her a moment alone with her partner.
"Mulder, I wish you wouldn't let them watch so much TV."
He turned to see her approach. "It's Sesame Street; it's educational. We can turn it off when it's over." Wiping his hands on the dishtowel, Mulder set it aside and reached for her. "I was just trying to find something quiet for them to do so you could rest. How are you feeling?"
"Better." She gladly stepped into his embrace, and they shared a quick kiss before pulling apart.
"I was about to grab some breakfast before I left. Can I get you anything?" He lifted his half-finished glass of milk from the counter and offered it to her. She quickly pushed it away.
"Not that much better."
Mulder gave her a sympathetic grimace and downed the rest of the milk. "I wish I didn't have to go in today. But your mom should be here soon, so you can take it easy." He turned to rinse out the glass and the few remaining dishes in the sink.
"Mulder, we need to talk."
"Okay," he tossed over his shoulder, not turning from his task.
Her serious tone got his attention. The water went off, and he soon stood squarely facing her. "Should I be worried?"
"You might want to sit down."
"I'll take that as a 'yes.'"
Grabbing the closest chair, he took a seat at the table, and Scully stepped forward to join him in the adjacent seat. Her eyes skittered toward the television, to her hands nervously picking at each other, then to the clock across the room. She was having a hard time meeting his eyes.
Taking a deep breath, she hurriedly exhaled what she needed to say. "You know when we had that discussion about birth control, and I told you that because of my medical history, we didn't need to worry about it?"
"Yeah?" he ventured warily.
"Well, apparently I was wrong."
Hesitantly reaching into the pocket of her bathrobe, she retrieved the thin, white stick she had carried down from the bathroom and placed it on the table in front of him. There was no mistaking the plus sign in the clear plastic window.
"Scully, you don't mean..."
"Yeah, I'm afraid so."
For a moment, there was nothing but the sound of a dripping faucet and Elmo's off-key singing.
Yep. That about summed it up.
bellefleur: Thanks for joining us on this ride! It's been fun. A big thanks to Emily Sim for agreeing to write this with me. She probably had no idea what she was getting herself into, but I can honestly say that none of this would have happened without her. Thank you also to all those who faithfully supported us with feedback and pokes, to those who provided beta help and advice along the way, and especially to all of those anonymous mothers of twins who were kind enough to post their stories on the internet so I could do research without enduring any of this myself. And my sincerest apologies to Scully for any stretch marks that may have inadvertently resulted from the extended gestational period.
Emily Sim: This has been the best kind of adventure. Thanks to belle for putting up with my 'thought in process emails,' and biggest hugs to xdks, who is the best beta a gal could have! She keeps me from embarrassing myself, and any leftover errors are my own, of course! For all of you out there who provided steady feedback, your support really does make a difference. So very often an encouraging note showed up in such a timely manner I thought someone must have installed a spy cam. So, thank you, to all who took the time to read and to those who took time to send feedback.
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