Part 11
Fishery, Cribbage, and Bedlam

by bellefleur

Tales of confinement

DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to CC, FOX, etc.

Notes: Thanks to Emily Sim and to my beta UnderMySkinner (X-PhileChick#35).

* * *
* * *


Mulder turned his key in the door that was becoming as familiar to him as his own and pushed it open with his shoulder. He could hear the drone of the TV across the living room and spied his partner's crimson crown over the end of the couch. Hoping she was asleep, he quietly latched the door behind him and began to toe off his shoes next to the large, glass container shoved into the corner behind the coat rack.

"Mulder, you can't leave the fish tank there."

He sighed and closed his eyes in search of patience. Since his appearance with the empty fish tank a few days previous, this had become a familiar line. He moved the tank, and Scully complained about where he put it: The spare bedroom was too crowded. She might trip over it in the hallway. It was too unsightly in the living room. She wouldn't even consider having it in her bathtub (regardless of the fact that she couldn't get in it anymore). But the crisis with the fish tank was only symbolic of their greater existence right now: he went out of his way to be helpful, but it seemed that nothing would please the sequestered Scully.

After another deep breath, he turned to face her. "I'm running out of places, Scully. Where do you want me to put it?"

"Why did you even bring it over here in the first place?" Uh oh. She was in a whiny mood today--this wasn't a good sign.

Undoing his tie, Mulder stepped closer to the couch so she wouldn't try to get up. "I don't know. It seemed like a good idea at the time."

"Yeah, you and your good ideas..." she mumbled.

"What was that?"


He looked around the room, searching once more for an acceptable solution. "Okay, how about I put it in the corner by the window and throw a blanket over it?"

"Why can't you take it wherever your couch is? You still haven't explained to me where that ended up."

He turned away from her before answering. He wasn't ready to tell her about the house, but he couldn't lie to her face. "It's, um--in storage."

"Then why didn't you put the fish tank in storage?" She sat up more fully to watch while he picked up the cumbersome tank and carried it across the room.

"Because I was afraid the movers might break it."


Mulder set down the tank and turned to face her again. "Look, Scully, I realize now this was a bad idea, but it's here, so we'll just have to find a place for it until I can move it. Okay?"

Her arms crossed over her chest in a show of protest, but she begrudgingly agreed. "Fine."

Looking around the room, Mulder only now realized that his partner was here alone. "Where's your mom?"

Her eyes quickly dropped away from his. "Uh, she left. But there's a casserole heating in the oven for us." She gestured absently toward the kitchen.

"I hope she didn't leave on my account. I mean, I know she's--"

"No, I'm pretty sure she left because of me."

"Why?" When her only response was a guilty expression, he prodded, "What aren't you telling me?"

Scully picked at a loose thread on the blanket in her lap, still refusing to meet his eyes. "We had a fight. I kind of kicked her out."

"Kind of?"

"I yelled at her, and I'm pretty sure I swore at her too."

Coming over to join her on the couch, Mulder leaned in closer than necessary, trying to catch her gaze. "Why?"

Scully sighed and finally looked over at him. "I just want my space back. You two are always hovering, like a couple of"--her hand fluttered in the air for a minute as she struggled to find the right word--"hoverers, and I just don't have any room to myself anymore."

He took the hint and backed off a little, before that hovering hand found him to be an easy target. "Scully, we're just trying to--"

"I know what you're trying to do, and I appreciate it--sometimes--but I don't need to be under twenty-four hour guard. I'm not going to spontaneously combust if I'm left alone for a couple of hours."

Mulder pivoted and brought his knee up onto the couch to face her fully. "And what if something happens and we're not here?"

She gestured to the cordless phone on the coffee table. "Then I call 9-1-1. Or I call one of you. You know, most of the time I'm just sitting here anyway. I don't need help doing that."

He ran a hand over his face in frustration. Getting some space didn't sound like such a bad idea right now. Besides, he had been searching for an excuse to buy him some time over at the new house. He stood and announced his decision. "Then maybe I should take off for a while tonight. I've got some things to take care of anyway."

"Apartment shopping?" She sounded a little too hopeful about that.

He deflected. "Uh, yeah, housing stuff."

"Mulder, please tell me you're looking." The whiny tone was back. "At least so you have someplace to put your fish tank."

He smiled to reassure her and answered, "I promise that I will find the fish tank a nice home."

* * *


It had been another boring day at work. For once in his life, Mulder was grateful for a weekend to take him away. With no partner in the office to keep him company, and no interesting cases to keep him occupied, the office had become his least favorite place. But, as much as he loved his partner and the thought of having kids with her, these days coming home to her wasn't the joy he had expected it to be. He understood that Scully was miserable in her current state, but she seemed to be taking the old adage "misery loves company" a little too seriously.

Quietly opening the front door, he carefully peeked his head inside to see if she was waiting to throw anything at him. All was silent, so he dared to enter.

After removing his shoes and his jacket, he made his way toward the back of the apartment. There was no sign of Scully on the couch, so he figured she must not have made it out of bed today.

"Mulder, what happened to the baby swing?"

The voice from behind surprised him, and he turned to find Scully standing just inside the spare room.

"What are you talking about?" He made his way down the hall to join her.

"The baby swing. The one that mysteriously showed up in the nursery a week after I told you we didn't need one yet?"

He stood just behind her in the doorway and looked over her head at the mess. The room was a jumble of baby things and enough of his belongings to get him by on a daily basis. The only bald spot was a space on the bed just large enough for him to curl up and grab a few hours of sleep each night. But there was a method to the madness; he had hoped that by leaving everything a mess, she wouldn't notice that items were slowly disappearing.

"Um, I moved it."

"Moved it where? That box was huge. It looked more like a swing set than a swing."

"Uh, I rearranged some things, to make room for my stuff." He placed a hand on each shoulder and rotated her to face him so she'd stop looking around the room, lest she notice what else had gone missing. "What are you doing in here, anyway? You're not supposed to be on your feet."

Ever defiant, she settled her fists on her hips. "I'm allowed to go to the bathroom, Mulder."

"This isn't the bathroom."

"It's not that much further. Besides, this is my apartment. I can go anywhere I want."

He made a quick decision. Marshmallow Mulder hadn't been having much luck, so it was time to bring out the iron fist. "Not in here, you can't."

She gaped at him in disbelief. "Are you telling me it's off limits?"

"It is now." He stepped around behind her and gently nudged her out of the room, closing the door behind them once they had cleared the threshold.

To his relief, she went willingly, but not without whining the whole way. "Mulder, that's supposed to be the nursery. It's never going to be done in time. The babies will be here and we won't have any place to put them."

"You let me worry about that. *You* need to worry about where they're living right now."


"C'mon, back to bed." He playfully swatted her on the behind to get her moving faster.

She twisted her head back to glare at him. "You touch my ass again and you lose that hand."

But he just smiled as he stepped back out of her reach. "Empty threats, Scully."

"You just wait until I'm mobile again--"

"As long as you realize you're not mobile now. I swear, every time I come home, I find more evidence of your wandering around the apartment. If you don't stop, I'll have to strap you to the bed."

She ignored the leer that accompanied that suggestion and slapped his hands away when he tried to help her get settled in bed. "I can't stay in bed all day; I have to pee every ten minutes."

"Then maybe I'll suggest to your doctor to put in a catheter."

Her eyes widened in horror. "You wouldn't!"

He raised his brows as if to say, "Just try me." When her jaw clamped shut in stunned silence, he knew she had gotten the message.

* * *


Mulder tried the door handle, hoping it would turn on its own--the door wasn't usually locked while Scully's mom was there. But it didn't budge. He frowned and then dug out his keys. When he had left that morning to do some things at the house, he'd been hoping to find the two women on speaking terms again when he got back. Regardless of her daughter's behavior, Maggie continued to stop by daily, but she had barely spoken two words to Scully since their fight. Mulder kept gently urging his partner to smooth things over with her mother, but it seemed that his words continued to fall on deaf ears.

The TV murmured in the living room, but apparently it wasn't loud enough to mask his entry, because no sooner had he stepped inside than he heard:

"Mulder, I want fish."

He froze for a moment as he tried to process this request. He'd never cooked fish before. Letting the door swing closed behind him, he answered, "Uh, okay. I don't think I could make salmon or anything, but I can get some fish sticks--"

"No, in the tank."

Mulder moved over to stand by the couch. "I thought you didn't want the tank, that it was an 'eyesore.'"

Scully struggled to sit up, not pushing him away for once when he dared to give her a hand. "It is. But as long as it's here, there might as well be something in it. It'll give me something to watch besides the TV. You have no idea how bad daytime TV is."

"Well, then I guess I'll go out later and get some fish."

Mulder knew she was bored to death, and extremely uncomfortable, and he really did feel for her, but there wasn't much he could do to improve the situation. Her mention of the TV, however, suddenly gave him an idea. Clapping his hands together in enthusiasm, he said, "Actually, I know just what you need!"

Before she could ask, he hurried down the hall to retrieve a box from the spare room. Despite the apparent disaster area, he knew exactly where everything was. And the mess was quickly dwindling since he'd been able to sneak another bag of toys out last night while Scully was asleep.

He quickly returned to the living room, knowing that if he were gone too long, she would get curious and get up to follow him.

Dropping the box onto the floor next to the coffee table, he plopped himself down beside it.

"What's that?"

He grinned at her. "My videos."

Her spine immediately went rigid, and she scolded in a hushed tone, "Mulder, get those out of here before my mother sees them!"

He laughed at her assumption. "Not *those* videos." Reaching inside the box, he pulled out a cassette and turned it so she could see the title: Plan 9 from Outer Space. "Bet you haven't seen most of these, Scully."

Settling back into the couch, she put on an air of disinterest. "There's a reason for that."

Undaunted, he proceeded to unpack the movies and stack them on the table in front of her. "You'll just love picking these apart. It'll be almost as good as shooting down my theories."

"Even Ed Wood isn't *that* outlandish." Curious now, Scully picked one of the videos up and turned it over to read the back.

"Don't knock it till you've tried it."

Setting the cassette down in her lap, she looked at him with a spark of defiance. "You do realize I'll have to get up to change the tapes."

"Not if I move the VCR to the coffee table."

She retorted smugly, "Then the cords won't reach."

But he had a quick comeback: "I'll get longer ones."

"But then I'll trip over them."

He grinned in triumph. "No, you won't, because you won't be walking around."

Crossing her arms, she huffed in frustration, "You just have an answer for everything, don't you mister smarty-pants?"

He chuckled at her unwillingness to accept defeat. "Anyone ever tell you how sexy you are when you're cranky?"

"Mulder, shut up."

Since she had a projectile within her reach, he decided not to push his luck. He finished unpacking the box and then shoved it over to the corner.

"So, do you think your mother will stop by today?" He tried to sound nonchalant. It was the best way he could think of to bring up the issue again.

"Actually, you just missed her. She dropped by on her way home from church. There's a pot of stew in the fridge."

"Do you know if she's still taking you to your appointment tomorrow?"

Scully dropped the tape onto the table and wrestled with the pillow behind her. "I know what you're getting at, Mulder, and the answer is 'yes'. I called her this morning and apologized for what I said to her the other day. She said she had already forgiven me but that it was nice to hear it anyway."

"Good, because it was getting a little cold in here every time the two of you were in the same room."

She settled back into the pillow and looked over at him where he still knelt on the floor. "It's not the first time we've fought. We always move past it."
His brow crinkled as the implications set in. "You mean this is going to happen again?"

She primly replied, "It's called a mother-daughter relationship. If you plan on sticking around here, you better get used to it."

Stifling a groan, he ran a hand through his hair and muttered, "Good thing we're going to have plenty of space."

"What's that?"

Mulder froze when he realized he had almost let the cat out of the bag. He was still too chicken to tell her what he had done. Fear of being found out triggered an adrenaline rush, and he was soon on his feet.

"Uh, I think I need to go pick up some longer cords so I can move the VCR. Be back in a few."

And he was out the door.

* * *
* * *

"Dana, are you expecting a package?"

"What?" Scully waddled out from the bedroom with a hairbrush still in her hand.

"A delivery man just buzzed up. He's bringing up a package."

Scully frowned at her mother. "No, I didn't order anything, but it wouldn't surprise me if Mulder did. He's bought two of everything he can get his hands on--I think he's competing with Noah. Can you sign for whatever it is? I'm not ready yet."

"Well, hurry, dear. We're going to be late for the appointment."

A knock sounded behind Maggie, and she turned to get the door. She opened it to find a young man in a uniform holding a long, heavy-looking box.

"Can you step back, ma'am? I don't want to accidentally hit you with this."

Maggie stepped out of the way and watched in surprise as another man with a matching box followed him through the door. They propped up the unwieldy items against the back of the couch, and then the first man turned to hand her a clipboard.

"If you wouldn't mind, just sign here."

She took the board and the pen. "Do you know who ordered these?"

"It should say on the invoice." He checked her signature and then tipped his hat at her. "Thank you, ma'am. Have a nice day."

Blinking in confusion at the two large boxes, Maggie turned to ask one more question, but the men were already gone.

"Who's it--what on earth!?!" Scully came to a stop as she caught sight of their delivery. "What are they?"

"I'm not sure." Maggie was returning from shutting the door. On her way back, she spied an invoice attached to the outside of one package and stooped to detach it. Unfolding the paper, she moved over to join her daughter while glancing over it. "Apparently they're cribs."

"I didn't order cribs. Are they from Mulder?"

Maggie's quiet gasp signaled her recognition of the sender. She held the page up for her daughter to see. "Look, Dana. They're from Bill."

"Bill? My brother Bill?" Scully grabbed the sheet to take a closer look and then turned to her mother in surprise. "I never thought.... I don't know what to say."

"Well, I think a thank you would be in order."

Scully considered the boxes. "Do you think this is a gesture of acceptance, or are these really from Tara?"

"You'll have to call them to find out. But right now, we need to get moving."

"No, wait. I want to look at these first. Maybe there's a picture inside." That glimmer in her eye was the same one she used to get at Christmas when she received an intricate new toy, like the year she got a chemistry set and didn't emerge from her bedroom for nearly a week.

Maggie tried to reason with her. "Dana, Fox can put them together when he comes home."

"But, Mom, I want to see them now." The whine was back. But her demeanor quickly changed. "I know--I'll call Frohike! He can come over and put one together while we're at the appointment. Then we can surprise Mulder when he comes home."

With a heavy sigh, Maggie accepted the compromise. "All right, dear, but call him quick. We really are running late."

Grabbing her cell phone from the table, Scully headed for the coat rack. "I'll call him on the way. Somehow I suspect he doesn't need a key to get into my apartment."

* * *

Muffled voices were audible from inside the apartment as Scully turned the key in her door: "Quick, put that down--they're home!"

Stepping inside, she found Frohike and Langly shuffling into place next to two shiny, new cribs now dominating her living room. Frohike was subtly bouncing on his toes, beaming at her in pride, and Langly was--well, Langly just looked like Langly.

But Scully hardly noticed the two, entranced as she was with the cribs. Coming over to inspect them, she almost giggled in delight. "Oh, they're beautiful! Now we can finally put the nursery together!"

Maggie had followed her daughter over and was running her hand over a smooth railing. "My, they're a bit larger than I would have expected. They can probably last you until the children are ready for a real bed."

At her mother's words, Scully frowned and stepped back to get more perspective. "Did you two measure the doorway?"

Frohike shot a panicked glance at Langly, who only shrugged, and then asked warily, "What doorway?"

She gestured toward the hallway. "The door to the nursery. That's where they're going. I certainly can't leave them out here in the living room."

"Uh, no, we didn't measure the doorway." Frohike's look of trepidation at Scully's impending lecture turned into relief when the sound of the front door opening drew everyone's attention.

Mulder stepped inside to find four sets of eyes staring back at him. "Hey guys, what's going--" But it didn't take long for him to spot the cribs, considering that they took up the entire living room. He turned to Scully and asked incredulously, "You bought cribs?"

Approaching him carefully, wary of his reaction to what she was about to say, she broke the news with a light tone. "Actually, Bill sent them. Can you believe it? But, they're perfect, Mulder. Come look."

Everyone stepped out of the way as she led him over to get a closer view. Scully looked hopeful, but Mulder wasn't to be persuaded easily. "Didn't he think to ask whether we already have cribs?"

"Well, we don't--" She stopped mid-sentence and turned to look at him squarely. "Do we, Mulder? I know you're good at hiding things around the apartment, but I haven't seen any cribs anywhere."

Not meeting her eyes, he grudgingly mumbled, "Don't worry about it," and then walked off toward the back bedroom. Scully stood watching him in confusion while the two other men shared an uncomfortable look; but Maggie decided to pursue.

"Fox?" She stepped uncertainly inside the open door to the spare room.

He turned at her voice. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be ungrateful, but..."

"You already bought cribs, didn't you?" she offered in a gentle tone.

"Yeah." Dejectedly, he took a seat on the bed. "They're over at the"--looking past her to make sure Scully wasn't standing within earshot, he chose his wording carefully--"new place. They were supposed to be part of the surprise."

"Fox." Maggie shut the door behind her and then came over to perch next to him on the bed. "Don't you think it's time you told her about the house?"

"But I wanted to have the nursery set up before she saw it. I wanted everything to be perfect." He exhaled his defeat. "I guess I'll have to take the other cribs back. It wouldn't go over very well to reject Bill's gift. But he should've considered that I can take care of my own--" Stopping himself, he looked sheepishly at Maggie. "I'm sorry, I just--"

"I know. But if you would just talk to Dana about this..."

Mulder stood and retreated toward the door. "I'll see about getting these moved over to the house--if I can figure out how to sneak them past Scully, that is." He opened the door swiftly, ready to make his escape, only to find Frohike standing on the other side.

"Oh, sorry. I was just here to measure the door. Scully wants us to move the cribs in there." He looked past Mulder and took in the disaster area that was to be the nursery. "Uh, I don't think the door's the only thing I need to measure."

"We can just move a few things." At the sound of Scully's voice, both men turned to see her move up beside them.

Frohike looked at her skeptically. "A few things? Even if you move out all of Mulder's crap--oh, sorry, Mrs. Scully--um, junk, we can't fit in even one crib as long as that bed's in there."

"Then we can move it."

"Where?" Mulder asked in disbelief. He scanned the apartment, wondering if the bed would become another fish tank problem.

But Scully seemed unconcerned. "Just prop it up against a wall for now. Maybe you can put it in your new apartment if you get a two-bedroom."

Several eyes shot toward Mulder at the mention of living arrangements, and he quickly covered by stepping over to his partner and steering her away.

"Look, why don't we get you settled in bed and then we can discuss this later."

* * *

Mulder needn't have worried about the mattress suffering the same fate as the fish tank--he did, instead.

It had taken the better part of the evening to get the bed disassembled, the cribs disassembled, the cribs reassembled, and enough of the spare room cleaned up to make all of this possible--all while Scully, quite helpfully, superintended from the couch. By the time their friends left, it was getting rather late. Mulder thought his partner had already gone to bed when he carried his tired frame into the living room and prepared to crash for the night.

"Mulder, it's not going to work for you to sleep on the couch. I'm usually out here during the day, and I can't have you moving all of my stuff every night."

He straightened from rearranging the nest she had built on the couch and looked at her wearily. "Then I can just sleep on the floor in the other room."

She stood with her arms folded and glanced over toward the room in question before answering. "No, that's the nursery. I want Mom to get it ready for the babies."

"I could throw some blankets in the bathtub...." He was mostly kidding, but at this point he was really too tired to care where he ended up.

"Don't you have an apartment yet? You keep running off in the evenings. I'm assuming you're looking for one. Unless you have a girlfriend on the side that you're not telling me--"

"How about over there by the window? I could sleep with the fishes."

She rolled her eyes as she realized his double entendre.

Mulder threw out his hands in exasperation. "Look, Scully, if you don't want me here, then just say so."

This deflated her a little. "No, Mulder, it's not that I don't want you here, I just...don't know where to put you."

In response to her change in tone, he gentled his voice. "Then where would you like me to sleep?"

"I guess..." She hesitated and looked around. "Well, I guess the bedroom's the only place that makes sense."

His eyebrows shot up in surprise. "*Your* bedroom? And where are you going to sleep?"

"Mulder, it's a queen-size bed. There's plenty of room for the two of us in there."

The corner of his mouth twitched up mischievously. "Yeah, but is there room enough for four?"

* * *

After taking turns in the bathroom, the partners climbed awkwardly into their own sides of the bed, careful to maintain a respectable distance. When Mulder automatically turned on the TV, Scully didn't complain; she figured it was preferable to an uncomfortable silence between them. She was exhausted after the eventful day they'd had, and sleep quickly claimed her.

Now, when she had made her offer of the new sleeping arrangements, Scully had already known that her partner didn't snore. But what she didn't know, and was about to learn, was that he had a sleep habit she would find even more annoying: Mulder was a cuddler.

In her standard routine, she was woken after a couple of hours of sleep by a demanding bladder. The room was dark and the TV was quiet. It might have seemed like any other night--if it hadn't been for the arm draped over her distended belly and the rhythmic puff of warm air that tickled the back of her neck.

After debating how best to handle this, Scully began to gently lift the arm, hoping to allow herself just enough room to slip out from underneath it. But the plan backfired; no sooner had she taken hold of Mulder's hand than he tightened his fingers around hers and clutched her more securely.

"Don't go." It was only a mumble, and she suspected that he wasn't fully awake.

"Mulder, your children are pressing on my bladder. Unless you wore your swim trunks to bed, I suggest you let me up."

"Mmm, sorry" was slurred in her ear, and she was afraid that he wasn't alert enough for her comment to register. But a moment later, the arm finally lifted and she felt his weight shift away behind her. Without looking back to see if he was awake, she clambered out of bed and made a beeline for the bathroom.

Scully hoped this would be an isolated incident, but she soon found that it was just the beginning.

* * *

Kicking didn't work. Neither did elbows. It was inevitable: no matter how many times during the night Scully pushed him away, she always woke later to find Mulder snuggled up behind her or half-draped over her. Mysteriously, though, when morning came, he was always back on his own side of the bed. He seemed completely unaware of what he'd been doing during the night, and since he always woke up disentangled, there was no evidence besides Scully's own testimony. As much as she wanted to confront him about it, she was too embarrassed to initiate a conversation on late night cuddling lest he tease that she had just imagined it all.

Once she resigned herself to the situation, however, she came to another realization: Mulder offered wonderful back support. She discovered this the first time she stopped pulling away from him and let gravity, and his strong arm, settle her back against his sturdy frame. After that, she decided never to complain about it again. In fact, she started to get disappointed when she woke up in the morning to find him back over on his side of the bed.

It was on one of these mornings that Scully lay on her side watching her slumbering partner. He was on his back, and his face was turned toward her slightly. One arm rested on his chest, and the other was somewhere beneath the covers.

In recent days, she had spent so much time getting frustrated with his intrusions into her territory that she had almost forgotten the many things that drew her to this man like a moth to a flame. He really was such a beautiful person, and more than just physically. She knew she hadn't been easy to live with lately, and yet he was still here whenever she needed him and seldom complained.

Not for the first time of late, Scully contemplated the gradual changes to their relationship and what impact parenthood would have on them. Here was her partner, in bed next to her, and she couldn't help but smile ruefully at the ironies: they were sleeping together, but they couldn't have sex; they were living together, but they weren't married; they were having children together, but they were just colleagues.

Scully sighed internally and thought to herself, *How fucked up are we?* As a girl, when she had dreamed about what her life would look like when she was expecting her first child, it certainly looked nothing like this. But that didn't stop her from daydreaming sometimes about the what-ifs and might-have-beens. Even though she had long ago given up on the fantasy, part of her still pined for the white picket fence, the big house with a big yard, a tree house in the back for the kids to play in.... But for them, it was not meant to be.

The motion on the other pillow rescued her from continuing that line of thought. A pair of hazel eyes slowly blinked open at her. Once they had come into focus, a lazy smile greeted her. "Hey."

She couldn't help but return his smile. "Hey, yourself."

"What time is it?"


"Mmmm." The eyes slipped closed again as he turned onto his side to face her and nestled back into the pillow.



"I'm sorry I've been such a bitch lately."

His eyes popped open again, and he perused her face before answering. "Scully, I could never call you a bitch--so it's a good thing you said it first."

She cocked an eyebrow and one corner of her mouth at his veiled insult. But she let it go and soon sobered. "I'm just--"

"Bored, and uncomfortable, and crowded--both inside and out."

"And tired, and cranky, and worried."

His brow furrowed, and he moved in a little closer. When he spoke, it was in an intimate tone. "Worried? About what?"

She looked away for a moment, but when she met his eyes again, she made the choice to trust him with her secret concerns. "Oh, about...everything. I have too much time to think. I worry about the delivery, and I worry about juggling two newborns, and I worry about teething, and schooling, and driving lessons, when to teach them about sex, and how to keep them from having sex--"

"Hey, we're great role models for that one. We'll just tell them that babies are made in test tubes."

Glaring at him, she deadpanned, "Okay, *I'll* be in charge of the sex education."

"Well, I think that's just a given, considering how your choice of visual aids would compare to mine."

She shook her head at him. Her expression quickly shifted, and she propped up on an elbow to ask: "Speaking of your visual aids, do you still have them?"

Mimicking her position, he waggled his eyebrows at her. "Why, you looking for something to watch?"

She rolled her eyes. "No. My mother's been cleaning up the nursery, and I'd just like a little warning if she's going to come across a box of X-rated movies."

"I think your mother already knows where babies come from."

She was about to reply, but when her mouth opened, a surprised "Oh!" came out instead. A hand immediately flew to her abdomen.

Mulder sprang up and closed the distance. "What? What is it?"

She heard his anxiety and hastened to reassure him. "Nothing. One of the babies kicked. I was just a bit surprised--I thought they were sleeping."

The panic on his face melted away, soon replaced by the look of wonder he got whenever he heard about the babies moving around. Scully knew that he wanted to touch her, to feel their motion, and she was amazed that even now he was timid about it. She helped him out by reaching for his hand and placing it on her abdomen.

"Right there. Feel it?"

"Yeah." His face broke out into a wide grin.

They both remained quiet and enjoyed the moment. In the midst of all the chaos and frustrations, simple moments like this were rare.

"Oh, no. No no no. Not there!"

"What? Scully, what's wrong? What did I do?"

"No, not you--them. They're kicking at my bladder. Mulder, move!"

Still a bit stunned, he quickly pulled back to give her room and watched as she rolled out of bed and practically sprinted for the bathroom. He had no idea she could still move that fast.

When he recovered enough to realize the humor of the situation, he called out after her, "Need any help in there?"

There was no reply, but she did seem to close the door a little more forcefully than necessary.

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Part 12