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Mulder reacts to the news that he's going to be a father.

SPOILER WARNING: through season 8 (see notes)
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to CC, FOX, etc.

Notes: To situate the story: IVF, yes; Mulder's abduction, no; Mulder's brain disease, no (but that's a given; does anyone really accept that idea besides CC?). So, this is a post-ep to Requiem, minus the last two scenes (this should become self-evident in the story).

* * * * *

I open my eyes and for the first time take in the speckled gray linoleum at my feet. The lifeless tones are such a contrast to my spirits that I can't help but laugh to myself, and with the laughter comes a fresh round of tears. It seems I just can't stop them from streaming down my face, and right now, I don't care. With my head bowed, my hands buried in my hair, and my elbows propped on my knees, no one can really see my face anyway. I need what privacy I can muster, here in this public hallway, to come to terms with this all.

I still can't believe this is happening. I'm going to be a father.

Hearing the word echoing in my head now, I wince--not at the concept itself, but out of shame for how I just behaved. Somehow I'll have to apologize to Scully for that, but I'm not sure that I could adequately explain my own reaction. All I know is that hearing that word for the first time scared me shitless.

* * *

When Skinner and I had finally made it back to civilization after our fruitless voyage to the forest outside Bellefleur, Oregon, I checked my voicemail to find a frantic message from Frohike. Sometime while we were out of cellular range, Scully had collapsed and been rushed off to the hospital. I couldn't get back to DC fast enough, and I'm sure Skinner was silently stewing at my restless behavior.

Too many hours later for me to count, I finally made it to her hospital room. I had braced myself, expecting the worst, but I found her sitting up in bed smiling at me when I arrived. I'd had all of those hours to think about what could be wrong, but she reassured me that she was fine--as if hearing her say those words has ever reassured me. When she finally convinced me to pull up a chair next to the bed and sit down, she took my hand in hers and gave me the diagnosis.

"I'm having a hard time understanding it, or believing it, but . . . " *Spit it out Scully; I'm dying here!* "I'm pregnant."

I must have looked like a fish out of water for a few minutes because all I could do was move my mouth without emitting any words.

It took me a while, but I finally found my voice. "I didn't think the in-vitro worked."

Scully smiled at me indulgently, with a look that will suit her well as a mother. "Mulder, that was months ago. It *didn't* work."

My rational mind finally re-engaged as the logic of this sank in. "You mean . . . ."

I'm sure that my face could have lit up the room, the way I was beaming with pride. As though I could single-handedly claim victory where science had failed. But I seemed to have lost my capacity for speech again, so Scully completed my thought. "We made this baby the old-fashioned way."

Unfortunately, we didn't make it much further into the conversation before the doctor walked in. If we had, maybe I would've had more time to process this all and wouldn't have made such an ass of myself.

"Ms. Scully, I have the results of those tests you asked for, if you'd like to discuss them now." With a pointed look at me and then back at her, it was clear that the doctor was suggesting I leave the room so that they could talk in private.

Scully just squeezed my hand and then turned to explain to the doctor that I was welcome to stay. "It's okay, he's the father."

And then, I panicked. It's just, that's the first time it had really hit me. I had considered the titles "sperm donor" and "lover" aplenty, but never had I considered the full implications of what would happen after the baby was born, and what that suddenly made me.

Father. Daddy. Pop.


And that's when I made an ass of myself. I'm sure I must have turned ghostly white, because Scully seemed to notice the change in me even before I not-so-gracefully excused myself.

"Uh, that's okay, I never really understand doctor talk anyway, and, um, Skinner's expecting a call from me, so I'll just . . ."

By that time I was nearly at the door anyway, the doctor having stepped out of my way as I bolted like a scared colt, and I seemed to have lost the power of speech again (it's becoming an epidemic with me)--so I just pointed toward the door and then hurried through it as fast as I could.

* * *

So, here I am sitting in the hallway outside of Scully's hospital room, contemplating the meaning of life.

Not my life--its life. I mean, his life--or her life. Whatever.

It hits me again: We did it. We made a life. I can't believe it.

And once more I laugh to myself in disbelief and start crying. This seems to be an automatic response for me. I think it's called "tears of joy," but I'm not really sure because it's been so long since I've felt this way. I think the last time was when Scully's cancer went into remission.

That thought sobers me, and I sniffle loudly, which brings to my attention the fact that my nose is running. As I lift my head from its hideaway and reach in my pocket for a handkerchief, I hear a familiar voice nearby.

"Oh, God, no."

I look over to see my partner's mother standing a few feet away from me, stock still and drained of color, with her hand covering her mouth. It's takes me a minute, but as I register the fact that her first sight was of me sitting in the hallway with my head in my hands, and then with obvious tear tracks on my face, I begin to comprehend her reaction. She must have immediately thought the worst.

I jump up from my seat to reassure her. "No, Mrs. Scully, it isn't that--she's fine. She's going to be just fine."

Taking her arm, I lead her over to the chair that I was just occupying, and I sit down next to her. She seems to be slowly recovering from her shock.

"I was out to brunch with some friends, and then we went shopping afterwards. When I got home, there was a message from one of your friends, a Mr. Byers, saying that Dana had been taken to the hospital. I thought maybe something had happened to both of you, since you weren't the one to call me."

For some reason, I feel guilty about this, although there was no way I could have been here at the time she was brought in. "I was out of town on a case. Dana . . . hasn't been feeling quite herself lately. She stayed behind instead of coming with me, and apparently she fainted. But she's going to be okay."

Her forehead creases in concern. "But, Fox, that was hours ago. They wouldn't keep her here this long if she had just fainted. Is there something else wrong?"

Can't get anything past these Scully women.

"Uh, they just wanted to run some tests. The doctor's in with her right now."

I'm hedging. I know it, and I think she knows it. But I just don't think it's my place to tell her that her daughter is pregnant. Even if I am the father.

Hey, I'm doing better--I didn't even flinch this time.

There's an awkward silence as she stares me down with a patented look that is obviously hereditary, and just as I think she is about to say something. . . .

The door opens. *Saved by the doctor!*

He notices us in the hallway but doesn't say anything, only smiles briefly in courtesy before he buries his nose in his files and continues down the hallway to his next order of business.

Mrs. Scully stands, and so do I. I really need to go talk to my partner, but I'm too cowardly to face her now, and I know that I can't handle both women at once. So I defer.

"Why don't you go in and talk to her. I'll just wait out here. I'm sure she'll be glad to see you."

Actually, I'm not sure that she'll be glad to see her. I don't know that Scully's ready to tell her mother that she's going to have a baby, out of wedlock (that's another issue that I'm not ready to think about). In fact, I don't know if she ever told her about the in-vitro. I know that she didn't tell her before it happened, because she let that little detail slip the next day when I asked her how the procedure went. I had assumed since she hadn't asked me to go with her that her mother must have been there. When she told me that her mother didn't even know, I urged her to call her, but I don't know if she ever did.

Thankfully, Mrs. Scully doesn't argue with me and quietly slips into her daughter's room. I hear Scully's surprised voice--"Mom!"--before the door closes behind her.

I resume my seat and my meditations, enjoying my brief respite before I have to go in there and eat crow (hopefully only in front of one Scully woman).

I'm going to be a father.

My vision goes blurry again. It just blows me away to think of what this means.

You'd think that I would've considered this before, but I haven't. When Scully first told me that she wanted to try the in-vitro, and asked me to be the donor, I knew immediately that my answer was yes. After everything this woman has done for me, and lost because of me, how could I deny her anything? In fact, it didn't really matter what her question was, the answer would always be yes. Of course, the fact that I love her more than my own life doesn't hurt her case either.

I would've told her my answer right away if she hadn't insisted that I take some time to think about it. And so I thought about it--not what my answer would be, but how to say it. Apparently I spent too much time thinking about it, because when I finally did tell her, I almost forgot to include the answer itself. But the way her face lit up, and the hug she gave me--honestly, I didn't think any further than that. Scully asked me for something, and I made her happy. I forgot to consider the consequences.

Sperm donor, I could do. I'd wanted to be a sperm donor for Scully for years (although, I preferred the more direct route). Even though she hadn't asked me for more than that, and had even told me she wasn't placing any responsibility on me beyond my initial contribution, I knew I would've gone much further. She's my partner, and there's no way I'm going to just do my business and then walk out of her life. I even had flashes of myself holding her hand in the delivery room. But, somehow, I never fully considered what would happen after the pregnancy, and to what extent I would be involved at that point.

When the procedure failed, there was a selfish part of me that sighed in relief because it meant that nothing would change between us. I wonder if I ever had much faith that it would work, or if maybe that selfish part of me didn't want it to. I had even told her that I didn't want it to come between us, and it didn't. In fact, it brought us closer. In the end, it was the impetus we finally needed to move beyond our self-imposed barriers and admit our feelings for each other.

And then, apparently, we made a baby.

I'm still scared shitless, but I'm also in awe of the idea. Growing inside of my partner, my lover, is a little human being that is part of her and part of me (but hopefully, more her than me). Someday it's going to walk and talk and have ideas of its own, and it's going to have beautiful auburn hair and a perfectly streamlined nose (*please, God*). And it's going to look up at me with intelligent blue eyes and call me Daddy.

Me, Daddy.

I laugh again, although my eyes manage to stay dry.

I'm going to take her to baseball games and shoot hoops with her in the driveway. Or maybe it'll be a boy, and we'll build model ships together, or I'll buy him a science kit so that he can learn experiments that will impress his mother. And I'll shelter him from all the evil in the world and teach him how to enjoy life and not be afraid all the time.

I wish we lived in a different world and I could feel confident that my child could be safe and could grow up to be happy. I wish that I'd had more time to change things here, to guarantee that there would be a future. But a wise woman once told me that that's the very purpose of our lives, to work together toward making this world a better place. If we lived in a perfect world, then my child would be deprived of that opportunity to grow.

Maybe I'll leave the philosophy to her mother, and I'll just stick to teaching her baseball.

I'm lost in the image of myself on my knees in the dirt behind a cute little girl with red pigtails, her tiny hands wrapped around a baseball bat and my large ones helping to balance it in her grip, as the door opens next to me and Mrs. Scully steps out. I immediately stand up out of courtesy, and she gestures for me to sit again. I guess she wants to have a word with me.

I think I'm making that panic face again.

I feel like I should speak first, like I should explain myself for knocking up her daughter, but I seem to have been struck dumb again.

As her hand comes to rest on my knee, I feel the fear draining from me, and I look up to meet her gaze. Her eyes are as warm as her hand, and I instantly hope that parenting skills are genetic because this woman is the epitome of good mothering. I grab on to her hand and gently squeeze in thanks for her acceptance, earning a brief smile in return.

She clears her throat and starts in. "Fox, I know that all this must be rather overwhelming for you, but Dana needs you right now." I let my eyes express my doubt. I think that I need Scully now more than she needs me. That's the way it always is. She's my rock, and I'm her tempest. "I've seen the strength that you two draw from each another, and she's going to need that strength now. She's going to need you to stand by her through this and support her, even though we both know that she's too proud to ask for your help. Do you think you can do that for her?"

Does she really think that I'm going to put her daughter "in a family way" and then split? After all the late night vigils in hospitals that she and I have gone through together waiting for news of Scully, I thought she would have more faith in me than this.

Then suddenly I realize where this is coming from. Scully must've told her how I bolted, and here I am cowering out in the hall. I think it's time to make amends, and a few promises.

I turn to face her and take both her hands in my own. "I'm not going anywhere, Mrs. Scully. I will be there for Dana through every step of this pregnancy. I'll even be around for the dirty diapers and late night feedings, and the first report card, and driver's ed, and college orientation. I don't know that I'll make a good father, but I'm sure as hell gonna try."

She smiles at me, and I realize sheepishly that I just said "hell" to a good Catholic woman, but she doesn't seem to mind. Hell, it can't be much worse on the list of offenses than fornicating with her daughter.

Now I'm turning red.

But her thoughts are on other things, and she gently places a hand on my face, her other hand still joined with mine. "Fox, if you love that child even half as much as I know you love Dana, you're going to make a wonderful father." God, I love this woman. Not as much as I love her daughter, but she already knows that. "Now, I think you need to go in there and tell her what you just told me."

I smile and nod, speechless again, but this time because of the tears choking me up rather than shock or fear. Releasing her hand, I take a deep breath and stand up to head for the door. Before I open it, I can see Scully through the window, her face turned slightly away toward the window on the far side of the room. I can see the worry on her face, and I know I'm partly to blame for that.

As I push open the door, she hears the noise and turns toward me. When I look into her face and see her own uncertainties about the future, the truth hits me all over again.

She's pregnant. I'm going to be a father.

And I'm grinning from ear to ear.

She sees my smile and the tension visibly drains from her, until the corners of her mouth turn up in mirror to mine.

Suddenly I can't contain my newfound excitement any longer, and I have to share with my best friend and partner the amazing discovery that I made today. I don't have a slideshow to illustrate it, but it thrills me the same as any flukeman or goat-sucking vampire. I know she can see the wonder dancing in my eyes as I seat myself in the chair next to her bed and take up one of her small hands in both of mine.

When I say the words, I mean it as both a revelation and a promise. "Scully, I'm going to be a father."



Author's Notes: As you can infer from the title, this is song-fic of sorts, inspired by Creed's "With Arms Wide Open" (lyrics below). The end of season 7, and the absurdity of season 8, robbed us of ever seeing Mulder's reaction to the news that he was going to be a father. Hearing this song, I like to think that this describes some of his thoughts and feelings at that moment.

(Obviously, I don't own this song either, so consider this part of the disclaimer. However, now that the band has disbanded--pun intended--I'd be happy to receive the royalties in their stead.)

Creed, "With Arms Wide Open"

Well I just heard the news today
It seems my life is going to change
I closed my eyes, begin to pray
Then tears of joy stream down my face

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open

Well I don't know if I'm ready
To be the man I have to be
I'll take a breath, take her by my side
We stand in awe, we've created life

Now everything has changed
I'll show you love
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open

If I had just one wish
Only one demand
I hope he's not like me
I hope he understands
That he can take this life
And hold it by the hand
And he can greet the world
With arms wide open


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