SPOILER: all things, Per Manum
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; the X-Files belong to CC, FOX, etc.
Timeline: Back in the day, before everyone started analyzing screen caps of "Per Manum" to determine the exact date Scully started visiting Dr. Parenti, I thought that "all things" provided a good turning point for her to consider having a child. So, this story is set immediately after the end of "all things" and assumes that the "Per Manum" flashbacks fit in before and after that episode.
Additional Notes: The title should mean "by heart," obviously playing off "per manum." However, I don't know that a native Latin-speaker would say "per cor" to mean the same thing that "by heart" means in English.
This fic is one of my "blast from the past" fics. The latest date I had attached to it was 2006, but I must have started it long before then (I'm posting it in 2008). It's less than perfect, but I'm posting it as is. What you see here was originally intended as part of a longer fic. However, as a missing scene/post-ep sort of fic, you can just pretend that the actual episodes are the rest of the story.
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Scully paused at the foot of the bed and looked at Mulder as she passed. So much had happened this weekend. So much had fallen into place. Last week there had been such tension between the two of them, over the vial, the secrets he had kept, and the demands he made on her life. Last week, she had been miserable that his life had become hers. Now, she wouldn't want it to be any other way. And it had taken an old lover to help her see that.
Over the past few weeks, Scully had been growing more restless, and in the process she felt like she was growing away from Mulder. Her last birthday had served to remind her how much older she was getting, and she could feel her biological clock ticking away. As a believer in both miracles and the wonders of medicine, Scully was not willing to accept her barrenness until she had exhausted every option. She wasn't sure yet how she would fit motherhood into her career, but she no longer cared. She wasn't getting any younger, and every day that passed made a pregnancy more risky. It was now or never. The X-Files be damned. What did she care about aliens, monsters, or conspiracies anyway? Those were Mulder's obsessions. Yet they had become her life, and she had sacrificed dearly for that.
So, Scully had gone to see the doctor to check out her options. This was only the second time she had gone to see this one. Her old doctor, Dr. Marshall, had taken an early retirement last spring and had passed on his patients to Dr. Parenti. Scully could have gone searching for a new doctor of her own choice, but she didn't really have the time. She felt comfortable enough with this man and didn't see any reason not to make him her regular physician.
On Monday of that previous week, Scully sat down with Dr. Parenti and discussed the possibilities. A full examination had failed to find any remaining healthy ova in her body. There was still the chance of egg donation, or she could go the more conventional route and adopt. The news was not as hopeful as Scully wanted, but she knew to expect little more than this.
Scully was lost in thought when she rode the elevator down to the X-Files office later that day. Mulder met her on the elevator, apparently on the way back from Skinner's office. It was only then that he finally told her that he had found some of the ova that had been stolen from her body. And he kept them! All these years! What greater violation of trust could there be than to withhold information like this from her? Scully was furious with Mulder. Although deep down she understood his reasons, she couldn't help feel that this was just one more attack in a long line of physical violations, all because of the X-Files. Those damned X-Files.
Scully couldn't face Mulder again that day. She went straight to Skinner's office to ask for a personal day and then went home. When she got to her apartment, there was a message from Mulder on her machine. It was brief--he gave her the name and address of the fertility clinic where her useless ova where still in storage. She had demanded a second opinion, so he was giving her that chance.
Scully copied down the information and then slammed the "erase" button on her machine. But as much as she wanted to rush over there immediately and retrieve her own precious eggs, she couldn't bring herself to do it. Not that day, not the next, not any day that week. She kept that name in her pocket, carried it with her everywhere she went, but she couldn't muster the hope or the courage to go.
But somehow, this weekend had changed that for her. As Scully left Mulder's apartment this morning, she knew there was only one place to go. Scully had left a note for Mulder on the way out, telling him that she had to run an errand and go back to her place to change, and that she would be late to work that day.
* * *
Mulder woke up with his alarm to find himself alone in bed. He had this vague memory of waking during the night to find Scully in his arms, but now in the daylight he wondered if maybe he had just dreamed that. It certainly wasn't the first time he'd had that kind of dream, although they usually turned out a little differently.... After lying there and thinking about it for a long moment, Mulder finally climbed out of bed. He walked into the bathroom and noticed one of his dress shirts draped across the back of the toilet. A flash of memory hit him and he thought of Scully lying there in his bed wearing a similar shirt. He picked up the shirt and smelled it. A smile came to his lips. He could smell the faint aroma of Scully's perfume. It hadn't been a dream after all. Then, something on the floor next to the toilet caught his eye. Mulder bent down and picked up what he found there--a pair of nylons. Now Mulder knew for certain he had not been imagining this. It had been a very long time since a woman had spent the night--not to mention completely disrobed--in his apartment.
Mulder showered and dressed. He knew he was running late but didn't care. His mind was elsewhere. As he was walking out of the bedroom toward the front door, putting on his tie as he went, Mulder noticed a piece of paper on the kitchen table. It was the note from Scully. It didn't say much, just that she left early without wanting to wake him and had some things to take care of before work.
Around 9 o'clock, Mulder finally wandered into the X-Files office. As he walked down the hallway, he saw the door was ajar. At first, he was a bit concerned, until he pushed open the door and saw Scully sitting there at the desk, with her feet propped up in a pose that he usually assumed.
"Morning," he greeted her. "I thought you were coming in late."
"I just had some calls to make. It didn't take as long as I thought it would." Scully was looking through a file and didn't look up at Mulder as she spoke.
Mulder walked over to the desk and leaned up against it next to Scully, with arms crossed--assuming what was usually Scully's position. She continued to ignore him and she read through the file.
He said nonchalantly, "I had the most incredible dream last night." No response. He continued. "At least, I thought it was a dream, until I walked into my bathroom this morning and found these." He slowly pulled the pair of pantyhose out of his pocket.
This caught Scully's attention. It was clear that she was fighting to hold back a smile. "I'd been wondering where those got to."
Scully quickly grabbed the nylons from Mulder, rolled them up, and stashed them in the back of a desk drawer. Then she handed the file to him. "Got a case for you, if you're interested. A series of murders in Baltimore. No apparent connection between the victims except the fact that all three were found in locked hotel rooms and the cause of death is yet to be determined."
She stood and walked toward the doorway, grabbing her coat, while Mulder flipped through the file. He finally looked up and turned toward her, realizing that she was waiting for him to join her so they could leave, but he didn't walk over immediately.
Mulder looked back down at the case file and tried to appear more interested in what he was reading than in what he was saying. "Hey Scully, can I take you out to dinner tonight?"
"No." Mulder looked up. Scully was smiling, waiting for this response. "I have plans with my mother tonight. But you can take me out tomorrow night. Pick me up at 6:30."
Mulder smiled back as his answer and began to walk toward Scully. She headed down the hallway, and he locked the door behind them.
* * *
Mulder showed up at Scully's door exactly at 6:30, as arranged. Scully was actually surprised when she heard the knock--she expected him to be late. Mulder was always running late to meetings. Of course, what she didn't know is that he had actually arrived early and had been sitting in his car outside of her building for the last 15 minutes.
Scully opened the door. Mulder was standing there with his hands behind his back. When he saw her, he froze, his breath momentarily taken away. Mulder's eyes scanned Scully up and down before they settled on her face. She was looking at him like, "Are you going to come in or what?" Mulder finally spoke.
"You look beautiful."
Scully blushed and looked down. "Thank you. Would you like to come in?"
Mulder took a step inside the door. Scully shut the door behind him, and as she turned around, she saw him extending toward her what he had been holding behind his back. It was a bouquet of orchids.
"These are for you."
"Thank you, Mulder. They're lovely. I'll put them in water."
"I, uh, found them down the hall on your neighbor's doorstep. I hope she won't miss them."
Scully glanced back and gave Mulder a look in response as she walked into the kitchen and pulled out a vase for the flowers. As usual, she answered his joke by changing the subject.
"So, do you know where we're going for dinner?" she asked.
"Yeah, I made 7:00 reservations at a Thai place downtown. Does that sound good to you?"
"Sounds just fine."
Scully returned from the kitchen, having set the vase of flowers on the dining room table. She grabbed her coat, and Mulder escorted her out the door.
* * *
The waiter came by and placed the bill on the table between Mulder and Scully, which Mulder swiftly picked up before Scully even had a chance to reach for it. But she didn't protest, as he thought she might. Apparently she was still too lost in her own thoughts to even notice. In fact, when the waiter came back with Mulder's credit card and the copy of the receipt for him to sign, Scully looked at him as though she hadn't even seen the bill appear on the table. Mulder took advantage of the fact that she looked over and made eye contact with him again.
"You interested in dessert somewhere, or would you like me to take you home?"
"Actually, how about going out for drinks?"
"Okay...I think there's a club down the street--"
"No, someplace quiet, where we can talk."
"There's a lounge in the lobby of the Sheraton where the over-50 crowd hangs out."
"Okay, let's go." Scully got up and turned toward the door before Mulder had a chance to object that he was just joking. Mulder shrugged to himself and followed her out.
* * *
They sat down at a table and a waiter came over to get their drink orders. Mulder gestured for Scully to order first.
"I'll have a glass of white wine."
The waiter looked at Mulder.
"Whatever you've got on tap."
As the waiter walked away, Scully gave Mulder a look like she was surprised that he didn't order anything harder. He responded, "Designated driver."
The waiter returned with their drinks a moment later. Scully was still distant, and Mulder waited until she had nearly drained her glass before he finally decided to push the issue.
"So, are you going to tell me what's on your mind?"
"Scully, you've been distant all night. At first, I just thought you were uncomfortable with the idea of me taking you out. But then you wanted to go somewhere where we could talk, so I'm assuming there's something you've been wanting to say."
She smiled at him sheepishly and then looked down at her drink. "I'm sorry. I haven't been very good company tonight. You're right, there's something I wanted to talk to you about, and, I just didn't quite know how to breach the subject."
Scully still wasn't forthcoming, so Mulder prompted her. "Does it have something to do with your doctor's appointment this morning?"
She looked up at him, surprised by his intuition. "Yes, it does." She sighed, bolstering herself, and then continued. "I had my doctor examine the ova that you told me about, and he said that with the right approach, he thinks they're viable...that this could work."
Mulder's face lit up. "That's great news."
Scully smiled back at him, and then her solemn expression returned as she continued with what she needed to say. "My doctor said I could start trying right away, as soon as I find a donor. That's...what I wanted to talk to you about. I wanted to ask you...if you might be willing to donate…your sperm, to help fertilize my ova."
"You make it sound so romantic." Mulder saw immediately by the look on Scully's face that this was not the time to joke around. He jumped in and tried to correct his mistake. "Scully, I'm--I'm sorry. Just ignore that. I'll shut up now."
She stared at him before gathering herself and resuming. "Mulder, I want you to know that what I'm asking you…there aren't any strings attached. All I'm asking is that you do this part for me. I'm not asking for any other obligations or commitment." She paused briefly. Mulder didn't interrupt. "I don't want you to answer me right now. I want you to spend some time thinking about this. And, I'd prefer that we not discuss this at work. This is personal, and I'd like to keep it that way."
She looked at Mulder, and he nodded in response. He waited, but she didn't say any more. There was a long pause.
Scully finished her wine. Mulder looked over at the dance floor where a few middle-ages couple were slow-dancing to the soft jazz music the band was playing. He looked over at Scully and then stood up and reached out his hand.
"C'mon. Let's dance." At her hesitation, he prodded, "It's not like we haven't done it before. I'm not that bad, am I?"
Scully gave him a coy smile and then took his hand. Mulder led her to the dance floor in the midst of the other couples. As they began to dance, she was very tense, rigidly holding on to her partner and not making eye contact with him.
Mulder leaned his head down and spoke quietly into her ear. "You're the only person I know who can drink half a bottle of wine and still be this tense. Relax, Scully." She pulled her head away and looked up at him, with an inquiring, almost sad look in her eyes. "You said what you needed to say. You don't want me to give you an answer tonight, right? So the conversation's closed for now. Let it go. Enjoy the rest of the evening."
Scully exhaled and, with the breath, released the tension that she was holding on to. For the first time that night, she was able to appreciate the fact that she was out on a date with Mulder. Here he was, holding her in his strong arms as they gently glided around the dance floor. Suddenly she felt contented and safe. As she relaxed more, Scully leaned her head against his chest, and he rested his face against her head. They danced like that for a few more songs, until the music stopped when the band ended its set. The two slowly pulled back, not completely releasing each other yet, and shared a long, contented smile. Then they turned and walked back to the table.
As they approached the table, Mulder asked, "You ready to go home?"
* * *
As Mulder parked his car in front of Scully's apartment building, she suddenly began to feel awkward again. This was just Mulder, and he had been to her apartment countless times, but this was the first time they had ever gone on a date. And she was feeling all of that first date how-do-you-say-good-night awkwardness.
Mulder at least delayed her anxiety as her turned off the engine: "I'll walk you to your door."
They silently walked to the building and Scully unlocked the front door. As she turned the handle and began to walk in, she suddenly felt the familiar touch of Mulder's hand on her back, guiding her through. She often didn't notice this anymore because she was so used to it, but at this moment, she was completely aware of his touch. She found it both disarming and comforting. It both reminded her of her own discomfort at that moment and recalled to her the comfort and familiarity of who this was walking behind her.
They arrived at Scully's door, and she fumbled with the keys to unlock it. As the door opened, she paused and then turned toward Mulder.
"Do you...want to come in?" She didn't sound very certain about her offer, but somehow she felt obligated to extend it. This was Mulder, and she almost felt rude refusing him entry into her apartment.
"No, it's late, and I should get home."
Mulder was being a gentleman, and this put Scully at ease. In fact, he had been a perfect gentleman all evening, and this was the first time that she had really noticed. She took a step into her apartment and stood there facing him as he remained outside the door.
"Scully, I had a really nice time tonight."
"No you didn't. I spent half the night lost in my own thoughts."
"Then how do you know I didn't have a good time?"
He had a point. Scully didn't have an answer. He had left her speechless, and he took advantage of that fact.
Mulder took a step toward Scully, closing the gap between them. With his right hand, he reached up and brushed her hair back from her face, while with his left he loosely took hold of her right hand that was hanging at her side. She didn't pull away from his closeness, so Mulder felt emboldened to continue.
Mulder slowly leaned in, bowing his head toward hers. He wanted her to have plenty of time to see this coming, to think about it and react to it. He knew that he could never push their relationship beyond what she was ready for, and the one thing he was most afraid of was him pushing too hard and her having regrets. But Scully knew what was coming, and she didn't pull back. When his lips met hers, she was ready for them.
The kiss was gentle and sweet, but the love and passion fueling it were enough to make Scully feel weak in the knees. She closed her eyes and left them closed as he pulled away far too quickly for her liking. When Scully's eyes opened, Mulder saw behind them all the hunger and passion that he himself felt for her. He longed to see that look in her eyes, and only a couple of times before had he even caught a glimpse of it. And here it was, gazing back at him unabashedly.
Mulder let a small smile escape his lips. "Good-night," he whispered to her, their faces still very close. Then he slowly pulled away and walked down the hall, leaving Scully standing there in the doorway watching him go. He willed himself not to look back at her as he rounded the corner, so she wouldn't see the triumphant smile on his face. But Mulder noticed that he didn't hear her door close until he was out of sight.
* * *
Friday evening found the partners hanging out at Mulder's apartment on the thin pretense of discussing the case in Baltimore. However, the case was quickly set aside, and the air became thick with the conversation they were yet to have, discussing the answer Mulder had briefly given Scully not two days before.
"This shouldn't have to be so awkward. It's just us."
At Mulder's words, some of the tension between them melted. Scully had been sitting on the edge of the couch but now sank against the back of it, her head gently landing on Mulder's arm that was stretched along the top of the couch. She tilted her head to look at him.
Scully sighed. "I know." She reassuringly placed her hand on his knee. "But somehow it is...awkward. I didn't understand at first why you thought this could cause us problems...come between us. But now I know what you meant."
Mulder pulled Scully closer to him with the arm that was behind her head and leaned over to kiss her on the forehead. She gladly settled into his embrace, leaning her head against his shoulder. Mulder settled his own head on top of hers. They sat there like that in silence for a moment.
"Scully, I know this is something you want to do on your own, and that you didn't ask me to be involved, but I want to be there for you. I want to help out in whatever way I can. You don't have to go through this alone."
"Thank you, Mulder." She paused, but clearly wanted to say something more. "You know...I wasn't sure if it would be more inappropriate to ask you to do this for me, or not to ask you. You're my closest friend, and it just didn't seem right to turn to someone else."
"Well, I agree I might have been a little offended if you walked in the office one day and announced you were having Skinner's baby," Mulder chided.
Scully quickly objected. "Mulder, I didn't mean Skinner. I was talking about an anonymous donor. But somehow I didn't like the idea of bearing a stranger's child."
"You'd rather bear my child?"
It was one of those thoughts that flowed logically from such an opening, but Mulder knew it was not the type of thing to say aloud. Not to your best friend and partner, the woman that you love but from a respectful distance, and whom you're trying to convince that this situation should not be awkward. There was an uncomfortable pause. But, Mulder didn't apologize. In fact, he genuinely wanted to know the answer to this question, so he left it hanging to see how Scully would respond, meanwhile unconsciously holding his breath in anticipation.
Scully had been holding her breath too, knowing that if she exhaled, she would not be able to hold back the answer that had immediately sprang to her tongue and was waiting for release. Finally she let go, and that one word escaped with her breath, no more than a whisper.
Mulder put his free hand on Scully's face and gently turned it toward him. He wanted to see her eyes, to get a glimpse of what she was thinking and feeling right now. They exchanged looks as two people who were desperately in love with one another but also anticipated the pain that that revelation might cause.
"Scully, what is it that you're afraid of?"
Although Mulder didn't specify what he was talking about, Scully knew that he meant the two of them, their relationship--their love. What was it that she feared so much? Not his rejection. She knew how much this man loved and wanted her. Not her own feelings, because she had finally come to terms with them. She wasn't really sure what the answer was, and so she didn't say anything.
Mulder's eyes had dropped to her lips. She saw this and knew what he wanted. Scully lifted her hand to his face, to match his hand that still rested on hers. She stroked the side of his face gently, and then she let her hand move around behind his neck, gently drawing his face down toward hers. When their lips met, it was like electricity. The kiss was gentle and soft, and it was a long moment before either one of them wanted to pull away. When they did pull back, just enough to look into each other's eyes, Scully finally voiced her answer.
"The consequences. The sacrifices. Change."
"Change is inevitable. But the one thing that will never change is the way I feel about you."
Mulder leaned in for another kiss, this one longer, more involved. When they both pulled back, breathless, faces still very close, Scully said, "I think I should go now." She didn't sound panicked, but matter-of-fact, knowing that she wasn't ready for more and that her presence there was a temptation to them both. But neither of them pulled away yet. They lingered--they both wanted so much more at that moment.
Mulder shifted, and the moment was broken. Scully turned to get up from the couch.
"I'll walk you to your car."
Neither said another word as Scully grabbed her jacket from the coat rack and the two of them walked out the door and down to her car. As Scully reached the vehicle, she stopped and halfway turned back toward Mulder. "I guess I'll see you on Monday."
Mulder reached out his hand and gently squeezed hers, just to make a connection, and to release some of the tension that had built up between them again. She looked up and responded with a smile, then he let go of her hand and turned to go back inside the building while she got into her car and left.
There was no telling what the future would bring, or whether this procedure would work. But Mulder was determined that his words would not be prophetic--that this attempt to create life together would not come between them, but would only draw them closer.
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More notes: This was originally meant to be a longer story, but I have long since jumped off of this train of thought, so I'm ending the story here. However, I have explored "Per Manum" and pregnancy ideas in other stories, so you can turn to those instead as a more satisfactory conclusion:
Arms Wide Open
, with Emily Sim (post-"Per Manum")
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