Spoilers: Per Manum
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Beta Kudos: to xdks - who keeps me from embarrassing myself. Any left over mistakes are mine.
Scully reached behind her and rearranged the pillow. Again. Her back hurt, her ass hurt, and if she had to watch one more talk show she was going to shoot the television. If she could convince her mother or Mulder to fetch her gun, that is. She was sick of lying around, sick of people hovering, and really sick of answering questions regarding her health. Or the babies' health. She hadn't been looking forward to wearing clothing that looked suspiciously like a grown up version of a toddler's wardrobe, but she hadn't banked on spending her last few weeks lounging in flannel either. Or just plain lounging.
"Do you need anything before I pop out to the store?" Her mother set her bag on the table while she pulled a sweater on. "Can I pick you up something to read?"
"Take me with you?"
"Oh, honey. I know how hard this is for you. It won't be for much longer and then it will be just a memory."
"God, Mom, why would I want to remember this?"
"You will. All the hard parts will fade and you'll be left with the good memories. And take advantage of the time you have to lie around. When those two are born you won't sit down for 18 years."
Scully groaned and rearranged herself. "This is all Mulder's fault."
"Fox's? How do you figure that?'
"I don't know, it just is."
"I'll be sure to let him know."
"When will you be back?" Oh, God, she was whining. Her mother's company would be better than being on her own right now, even if her mom was slowly driving her crazy.
"I just need to purchase a few things. You're almost out of milk, and I thought I'd pick up the ingredients for a couple of lasagnas for your freezer. You remember I'm away this weekend, don't you? I thought I'd save Fox the trouble of cooking."
"Mulder doesn't cook, Mom. He dials."
"He'll have a couple of options then. So, nothing?"
"I'll be fine."
"Okay then. Call if you think of anything."
"I will. Bye, Mom."
"Get some rest, honey, I won't be long."
She heard the door close and the dead bolt being thrown. Rest. That's all she was getting. And bed sores. She flipped the television back on and began scanning. Surely there was something in the afternoon lineup that she'd missed. Even a rerun of something she hadn't seen in a while would do. God, what she wouldn't do for Mulder and one of his wacky cases right now.
But there would be no ghosts. No exsanguinations, cow tipping or vampire cult cases. Mulder was refusing anything but the most mundane tasks, so she couldn't even live the X-Files vicariously. And Skinner was right there supporting him. Mulder hadn't taken anything on that would take him out of town or occupy more than his eight-hour shift. She couldn't even count on a spooky story these days. He'd been downright domestic, which was more frightening than the idea of pushing two little humans out of that tiny space. Actually, the thought that she might end up with a C-section was scarier than even a vaginal delivery.
She had far too much time on her hands. Thinking about the babies and their delivery was keeping her up most nights. When she wasn't awake obsessing over details like feeding schedules and college education, she was dreaming about them. When she wasn't peeing, that is.
So far, she'd managed to convince both Mulder and her mom that she could cope fine on her own at night, but it was getting harder to do so. What she wouldn't give for her black power suit and a good five-inch heel to meet that battle. It was only a matter of time before one of them -- the sound of her door slamming and loud grunting startled her.
Shit, where was her gun? Scully pushed herself up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Between her very rounded abdomen and feeling light-headed from being prone, she was slow. The grunting was now accompanied by soft swearing. She took a deep breath to calm her racing heart. It was Mulder. She was going to kill him.
"It's just me, Scully." Another grunt and the sound of something heavy being set down.
She made her way to the door, forgoing her robe and slippers -- she couldn't see her damn feet anyway. She came around the corner to find her partner pulling his jacket off.
"Mulder, there's a fish tank on my floor."
"Did I wake you, Scully? I'm sorry." He tossed his jacket onto the back of the couch and wiped his hands on his jeans.
"Mulder, what's going on? I'm quite sure when you asked me if I needed anything when you left here yesterday _fish tank_ wasn't on the list. In fact, I don't think anything was on the list. I think I may have even --"
"You threw your hairbrush at me, Scully. I have a good memory."
"Shouldn't you be lying down? Sitting, at least."
"Don't change the subject." She sat down. Standing hurt her back too much and she was sure there was a headache somewhere in this.
"Well, I -- uh. It's mine." The words burst forth as he hastily took the chair opposite the couch.
"Why would I want your fish tank?" She took in the bundle of wires and attachments beside it. "Where are the fish?"
"So you just thought what? I'd like an empty -- what is it, ten gallon tank? Twenty? You thought I could use a new planter? Get some fish of my own?"
"We could keep it here."
"We? Keep it here?"
"Well -- just until...."
The last part of his sentence was muffled behind his hand. "Mulder, what the hell is going on?"
"Just until I find a new home for it."
"Mulder, help me out here. Why do you need a new home for your _empty_ fish tank? Why don't you just go out and buy a new molly?"
"Well, I --"
A loud banging on her door interrupted him. "Mulder, open the door."
"What the hell? Tell me that isn't Frohike, Mulder."
"Okay, it's not Frohike."
He stood and opened the door to admit a pissed off Frohike. From what she could see, that is. Only his eyes were visible, and they oozed pissed off. He was buried behind a pile of suit bags that were beginning to slip from his hands.
"Last time I do you a favor." He let go, dumping the bags on the floor, noticing Scully for the first time. "Oh, sorry, Scully. Didn't mean to mess up your lovely abode. And how are you doing this fine day?" He took a step back.
"Frohike? What is all this?" She looked from one man to the other.
"I told you we should've called first. Well, gotta go. Langly's double parked out there. Ciao." And he was gone.
Mulder's mouth opened and closed, but she couldn't hear any sound. He began to move away but she stopped him with the iciest stare she could manage from her position. "Tell. Me. Now."
"I sort of need a home for it."
"Did your landlord suddenly decide no fish tanks?"
"I sort of don't have a landlord right now."
"Did something happen to him? Is he okay?"
"He's fine. He just isn't my landlord anymore."
"God, Mulder, what happened? Was there a fire? An explosion? Did anyone get hurt?"
"No, no and no. I moved out, Scully."
It was her turn to be struck speechless.
"It's temporary, Scully. I've got something in progress for us."
She blew out the breath of air she was holding. "Thank God. I thought you were -- sorry, that's not coming out right. I'm glad nothing bad happened. I just --" his words finally caught up to her. "In progress for _us_?"
"Look, can I hang these in the guest room before they get all wrinkled?"
She watched, open-mouthed, as he began to scoop up the bags littering the floor and move them to the nursery.
It took her a moment, and then she was on her feet. "No, Mulder." She moved quickly, managing to make it to the door for support just as her abdomen tightened in a sharp contraction.
"Scully? Oh shit." The suit bags joined the baby paraphernalia covering the floor. "Here, lean on me and let me get you back to your room."
"No, the couch is fine. I just moved too fast." She managed to get out.
"Shouldn't we put the monitor on? Oh, God. Should I call Susan?"
"Just shut up. Please. We don't need the monitor; let me sit until it passes." She gripped his hand tightly, breathing through another contraction. It wasn't as strong as the first one. If she just kept still they would settle down. This had happened the other day when she'd moved around more than she should have.
"I'd feel better if you let me get the monitor. Shouldn't you put your feet up?"
"This is your fault, Mulder." She straightened up.
"My fault? How do you figure that?"
She let go of his hand and allowed him to help her settle back down on the couch. He tucked a pillow under her feet and tucked the blanket around her. "You just show up with your fish tank and your suits --"
"I'm going to go get the monitor."
She grabbed his hand and held on. "No. You tell me what your fish tank and suits are doing in my apartment."
"It's just until I finish up some other stuff I'm working on. I can use the guest bed--"
"Mulder, that bed is buried under baby stuff. Baby clothes, baby toys, diapers, and whatever else you keep buying."
"I can manage, Scully. And then you wouldn't have to be alone at night."
"I _like_ being alone at night. It's driving me crazy with you and my mother hovering all the time."
"Well, I don't like it. I worry that something might happen and I won't get here in time."
She sighed in resignation. Mulder could be like a scrap yard dog with a bone when he wanted something. She didn't have the energy to keep arguing with him. Besides, it might not be so bad to have someone to talk to when she was up in the wee hours of the morning, unable to sleep. "Okay, but for how long? What's the in progress thing?"
"Well, I'm waiting to hear back from someone about a place I saw. So, depending on that, it could be a couple of months give or take."
"But the babies will be here by then."
"It'll all work out, Scully. You'll see. Just let me worry about it, okay?" He smoothed the blanket over her. "Why don't you have a nap?"
"Actually, I'm a little hungry. My mom left some soup in the fridge; can you put it on to heat?"
"Sure. I'm kind of hungry myself."
When she heard him rattling around in the kitchen she closed her eyes. She was tired, and the whole exchange with him had worn her out. It was a little unnerving, Mulder suddenly deciding to move out of his beloved hovel. When had he ever been concerned about where he lived? The only thing he showed any pride in was those expensive suits he collected. And that stupid couch of his, which he hadn't brought over, thank God.
Scully's eyes suddenly flew open in abject horror -- oh God. He'd left his couch behind. And she had just told Mulder he could move into her place. What the hell was going on?
Mrs. Scully found Fox easily. His table was covered with fragments of white and as she got closer she saw why. His eyes were unfocused and he was methodically shredding napkins. This didn't look good.
It had been an uncomfortable two days. She had come back from running her errands to find Fox had moved in, sort of. According to Dana it was short term, but all her instincts, honed from dealing with four children, told her something else was going on.
Late last evening there had been a flurry of phone calls, and then Fox had run out. She'd heard the dead bolt being latched sometime after eleven and it was well after one before he got back home. She knew that because she'd been woken up by Dana's voice, loudly protesting his night wandering. Although she was positive Dana had used the word 'ditch' several times.
He stood up quickly, sending some of the tissue into the air. "Mrs. Scully; thanks for meeting me."
"My pleasure, Fox. And it's Maggie, please." She sat down opposite him and watched as he sheepishly gathered up the napkin remains and balled them together.
"Would you like a coffee?"
"That'd be lovely, Fox. Just milk, no sugar, please."
"I'll just be a minute." He left to join the short line at the Starbucks counter. It didn't take long and soon they were sipping strong, hot coffee and she could observe him without being too obvious. Drinking coffee was giving Fox something to do with his hands other than torture more napkins, but he was oozing nervous energy, obviously trying to figure out how to tell her something. She began to worry that it might be connected to those phone calls and his disappearance last night.
"Fox? Why don't you just tell me what's going on?" At his startled look she laughed. "You couldn't possibly think that I wouldn't notice?" She pointed to the ball of white. "Something is on your mind."
His smile was tight, and he looked almost guilty. "Yeah. Something all right. I thought if I could manage to tell you, it wouldn't be too hard to tell Scu--Dana."
"Oh, Fox. You're worrying me. Is everything okay?"
"Mrs. -- sorry, Maggie. I did something and I'm pretty sure Scully's going to kill me when she finds out."
"Goodness, what's happened?"
"Well, you know I moved out of my apartment, right?" At her nod he continued. "Well, I told Scully I was in between places; that I wanted to be closer to her and the babies. That wasn't the whole truth."
Maggie gripped her coffee mug a little tighter, worried now about what he was going to reveal.
"Maggie, I bought something."
Her anxiety dissolved into joy. A ring. He was going to ask her permission. Fox really was a traditionalist at heart. She reached across and grabbed his hand. "Go ahead."
"A house, Mrs. Scully."
"Yes, you have my bles -- a house?"
"Yeah. For the kids and all."
"A house." She sat back. He had bought -- a house?
"It's in the Old Alexandria area. Scully really loves that area. She's mentioned the style of houses there a couple of times. It's close to work so I won't have a long commute, which gives me more time to help her out at home. It has five bedrooms and a huge yard with trees. There's an oak tree that will be perfect for a tree house when the kids are old enough. It's close to shopping and the park is within walking distance. It's perfect."
She had recovered enough to catch most of his enthusiastic description. "It sounds lovely. But Dana knows nothing about this, does she?"
She watched joy be replaced by the anxiety. "No," he said miserably." I've been trying to tell her. She's been so grumpy lately; I haven't wanted to make things worse for her."
"Oh, Fox," she patted his hand. "The two of you need to work on your communication skills. Now, when were you planning on asking her?"
"Well, I'm assuming -- dear me." She blushed. "I am rather old fashioned I guess. I just assumed you were -- never mind."
"Maggie, I'm not sure I follow."
"Never mind, Fox. Well, a house then. That's a rather -- large gift, isn't it?"
"I was hoping we'd be sharing it."
"Oh, I see." She straightened up in her seat; she was a Scully after all. So what if her daughter and her -- she wasn't sure what category to put Fox in these days -- her Fox were somewhat unconventional? At least they weren't having sex. Maybe there was hope for them doing something in a more traditional order. Then again, the two of them had yet to do anything her generation might consider normal in a relationship. Goodness, how was she going to explain this one to Aunt Mavis? Or Bill? Or _anyone_?
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