Rock the Cradle Chapter One

by Medusa

Title : Rock the Cradle - Chapter One (revised) By : Medusa

Category : AU, Slash, Mpreg, Angst, MulderTorture. Pairing : M/Sk
Rating : NC17 for m/m relationship and descriptive sexual content. If you are under-age or this type of content squicks you in any way, do not read further.

Archive : Slashing Mulder, Mpreg, DiTB, Mulder in Jeopardy. Others please ask.

Warning : This is a WIP. I don't usually post WIP's but my dear friends on the slashingmulder list talked me into it.

Summary : Needless to say, this is a totally AU piece, although there are elements of canon referred to. Mulder and Skinner have been intimately involved for some time. Scully knows about it and she accepts the situation. Mulder was abducted by aliens. When he is eventually returned, nothing is the same and there are quite a few surprises that he and Walter have to deal with.

Disclaimer : Is there any point? We all know Mulder, Scully, Skinner and other X-Files characters belong to Chris Carter and Fox, because if they belonged to me there's no way Mulder would have been treated like he was in the last two seasons. Don't even get me started! <g> No infringement on their rights of ownership is intended and no money is being made from this work. This is a work of total fantasy.

Medical Disclaimer : I'm no expert, all my knowledge of pregnancy comes from my own experiences and is admittedly somewhat out of date. Creative license is claimed on anything that doesn't seem logical or factual.

Thanks : To my wonderful beta's, Jo, Bertie and Joey. Your editing skills and encouragement have been invaluable. Any mistakes still here are due to my own stubbornness and no reflection on your abilities.

Spoilers : None really, other than general occasional mention of events in the seven seasons of TXF.

Dedication : To the wonderfully talented David. You inspire my imagination, you give wings to my fantasies, yet you show me what is truly real.

Timeline :
Set after season 7. The estimated timeline for the purposes of this story are, of course, different than 'canon' since Mr. Carter and I disagree on the way time moves on, and then part ways entirely after Requiem. As has oft been said, Denial ain't only a river in Egypt. Any resemblance to anything that happened after season 7 is purely coincidental. <g>

When I worked onwards from Chimera, I figured that Mulder couldn't have been abducted in May. It suits my story for it to have been August, say the 7th for argument's sake.

Post Season 7, in my universe, Scully was never pregnant. To fit in with my purposes, Mulder was missing for a total of 8 months, and they didn't bury him when they found him.

Where we start our story, Mulder has been back for about 3 months and is seemingly coping with picking up the pieces of his life. He is back with the Bureau, but not working on The X Files. He and Scully are working together in Violent Crimes.

On with the show...

Sirius, Arizona
June 28, 2001, 1:10pm

The relentless summer sun blazed down on the Deputies and FBI Agents as they examined the crime scene. There was nothing new here, no fresh evidence. Mulder had ruled that this was one of the earlier murders, which Scully confirmed, stating that she thought the body had been in this old tin shed, the one that the investigative team was currently crowded into, for at least two weeks.

Mulder and Scully had been investigating a series of murders all week in this one-horse town, but it looked like they were getting close to putting enough evidence together, along with Mulder's profile, to solve the case.

The heat was stifling, making the air heavy, and the sickening smell of a well decomposed body had already sent one of the deputies running. Even Mulder was looking decidedly green as he squatted over the body, valiantly trying not to breathe in the stench as he looked for visual clues.

Scully looked sideways at him as he stood abruptly, and then just as abruptly, fainted dead away.

"Mulder!" She made a grab for him, guiding him backwards to prevent him from falling onto the body. "Help me get him outside, into the fresh air and the shade!" She yelled at the deputies standing around with their figurative thumbs up their asses while she struggled with Mulder's weight.

Two deputies jumped forward and lifted the unconscious man, carried him outside and set him down on the shady side of the shed. Scully loosened his tie and undid the top shirt button. He felt overheated to her touch, his skin too dry.

"Dammit," she muttered, turning to the deputy nearest them, "I need to get him to the hospital, I think he's suffering from heat stroke."

Twenty minutes later, Mulder woke up in the air-conditioned emergency room of Lansdowne County Hospital. Strategically placed ice packs were cooling him down and he had an IV delivering chilled fluids into his veins.

He blinked in confusion at his surroundings and his gaze finally settled on his partner. "Scully?"

"Mulder, you're awake!"

"What happened?" His voice cracked from a dry throat.

Scully held a cup of ice cold water to his lips and he drank deeply.

"You passed out. The doctor says you're dehydrated and your blood pressure is way too low. They're giving you IV fluids to treat it so you should start to feel better soon," she explained.

Mulder nodded and winced. "My head aches."

"Heat exhaustion, Mulder. You haven't been drinking enough fluids. In this heat, you know you should drink plenty of water."

Mulder had the good grace to look contrite. "Sorry. I'm feeling okay now, when can I get out of here?"

Scully sighed at his impatience. "Not until your fluid levels are back up to where they should be and your blood pressure gets back to normal. They're just running a few routine tests and we have to wait for the results on your blood work. It's not normal for a grown man to faint like that." She put the cup back to his lips. "Here, drink some more. The more liquid we can get into you, the faster you can get out of here."

Mulder dutifully drained the cup. He didn't tell Scully about the nausea he'd been suffering with for weeks - which is why he hadn't swallowed enough of anything, let alone water lately. He hadn't been able to hold anything down that morning, but he had to admit he was feeling a little more confident of retaining what he was drinking now. The nausea had gone again. It came and went, without rhyme or reason, which was damned annoying. Last week, when his lover had noticed that he'd been feeling off color, Walt had worried that it was a residual effect of his abduction. Mulder had argued that it was more than likely just a touchy stomach and still getting used to being home, and that he was not going back to the hospital for a check up, that he'd be fine in a day or two.

And now Mulder supposed that four days of the 100 plus degrees in-the-shade temperatures of this Arizona desert town had complicated things, causing the embarrassing little show that he knew he'd put on for the local PD.

Deputy Jackson poked his head in the doorway and addressed Scully. "Ma'am? The body's downstairs in the morgue now, if you want to take a closer look." Jackson nodded politely to Mulder. "Feelin' better now, Agent Mulder?"

"Yeah much, thanks." Mulder mentally steeled himself for the expected remarks about how city boys couldn't handle the heat, but no comments were forthcoming. "Scully, go on if you want to. I'll be okay here until I can go back to the motel. I promise to be good and not run off until you get back and the doctor says I can go."

Scully smiled at his promise, knowing how much it took for Mulder to agree to stay put in the ER. She knew he was heartily sick of the sight of medical facilities after spending several weeks recovering in one from the injuries he'd had when returned from his abduction.

As she left, she told the nurse waiting to take Mulder's temperature and blood pressure again just where she'd be if needed and that she'd be back soon. Mulder relaxed into the pillow and closed his eyes. He was glad Scully was going for a while, maybe he could take a catnap while he waited for her. He felt really tired.

Lansdowne County Hospital

The sound of hushed voices roused Mulder from his doze. Rubbing tired eyes and yawning, he saw that Scully had returned and was speaking with someone whom he presumed was the ER doctor.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"Mulder! No, nothing serious. This is Doctor Martin. We were just discussing your blood test results. It seems your results are a little anomalous."

That hardly surprised Mulder, given his history. He noticed that Scully seemed to be amused with what the results had shown.

Doctor Martin shrugged apologetically. "It's embarrassing, really. I don't know how the error could have been made, but according to these results you are, um, pregnant, Mr. Mulder."

Mulder laughed, "Well that's a relief. I thought you were going to tell me something was really wrong with me." Mulder would have been more surprised or worried if the tests had actually come up with normal results.

"There may still be something going on that we should be aware of. I'd like to re-run the tests."

Mulder shook his head. "Look, doc, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather just get out of here and go back to the motel. I feel fine now, my headache is gone, I don't feel dizzy or nauseous any more," he looked up at the almost empty IV bag, "and I think my tank's been topped up enough - I'll be fine. I'll just stay out of the sun and drink more water in the future."

The doctor seemed less than satisfied, but Scully reassured him, "I'll keep an eye on him and make sure he rests. I'll call if I think there's a problem. And I think a trip to his own physician when we get back to DC wouldn't hurt." This last she said with a glare at Mulder as if daring him to argue with her. She'd get the AD to back her up if necessary.

Doctor Martin checked Mulder's chart one more time. "Very well, Agent Scully, I'll release him into your care. His BP's stable and he seems to be hydrated well enough now. But please, call me if he develops a fever or gets disoriented. Heat stroke can sometimes cause damage to the kidneys or other organs and might not be apparent at first." He signed the release form and handed it to Scully, then turned to Mulder again, "You can get dressed and go as soon as I have a nurse come in and disconnect that IV, Agent Mulder."

Comfort Inn
Sirius, Arizona

Deputy Jackson had driven them back to the motel and Mulder was now in the shower 'getting the smell of the hospital out of his hair'. Scully set a jug of ice water on the night stand and turned down the bed.

Her cell phone rang and she had to search for a moment to find it.


"Agent Scully. Where are you?" Assistant Director Skinner's concerned voice demanded.

"Sir, we're at the motel."

"Is Mulder all right? I got a message telling me he'd collapsed. I... I've been worried."

"He's fine. In fact he's in the shower. It was just a case of heat stroke, he got dehydrated and passed out. We took him to the emergency room and after they gave him some IV fluids and cooled him down, they let him go. Just hang on, I'll tell him you're on the phone."

The shower had shut off and Scully knocked on the bathroom door. "Mulder? AD Skinner's on the phone."

The door flew open and Mulder stood there wrapped in a towel, water glistening on his chest and hair. He grabbed a second towel and took the cell phone from his partner excitedly.

"Walter? I'm glad you called." Mulder sat on the edge of the bed and absently dried his hair as he talked and listened.

Scully could only hear one side of the conversation. Mulder was sounding up-beat, trying to reassure his lover that he was all right.

"No, I'm fine, honest... Yeah, I didn't think and forgot to drink enough water so I got a little dehydrated, but I'm okay now, just tired." He grinned wickedly at Scully. "In fact, Scully's getting ready to tuck me into bed now." He laughed at whatever Skinner said in reply. "It's really good to hear your voice, too." He turned self-consciously away from Scully and spoke quietly to Skinner for a few minutes more, then finished with, "I miss you, I'll call you tomorrow."

Mulder handed the phone back to Scully, rolled his legs up and under the sheet. Once covered, he dropped the towel that had been around his waist onto the floor. He scrubbed his hair dry once more and that towel also landed on the floor. Scully sighed and picked the towels up.

"Are you sure you feel all right, Mulder? It's not like you to willingly go to bed at this early hour." She poured water into a glass and pointedly held it out to her partner. "Drink this. I'm just worried that you're pushing yourself too hard, too soon."

Mulder sighed and gulped half the water in one swallow. "I'm fine, really. The doctors at Bethesda said I was fine. I feel fine. Like I said to Walt, I'm just tired. Today took a lot out of me and you have to admit it's been a hell of a few days down here. I just need to sleep, I haven't really had a good night since we got here."

That much was true. But Mulder was still recovering emotionally from his abduction. As soon as he'd returned to work, they'd reassigned him to Violent crimes, and this was his first field case. They'd been sent down here to help with finding a serial killer -- and Arizona was having one of the worst heat waves on record, which made for very uncomfortable conditions. Mulder had spent long hours reviewing evidence and writing a profile. There had been 3 murders, 4 including today's discovery, and the police now felt that, with the FBI's recent help, they were close to catching the UNSUB. Thanks to Mulder's ceaseless efforts and Scully's forensic knowledge.

"Well, I'm right next door if you need anything." She brought over the room service tray that had arrived while Mulder was in the shower, and set it on the bed next to him. He lifted the cover and sniffed appreciatively at the chicken soup and turkey sandwich.

"Make sure you eat. And keep drinking water, no coffee or soda. I'll take your key and come in to check on you later. Sleep well, Mulder," she said on her way out the door.

"G'night, Scully," he mumbled around a mouthful of the soup.

Mulder polished off all the soup and the sandwich, drank two more glasses of water, used the bathroom and then settled back down under the covers. He really was pooped. It wasn't even 8 o'clock and he was nearly asleep. Still, he could count on both hands the total number of hours sleep he'd had since arriving here, so he really needed an early night. Mulder knew that his insomnia was worse than ever and he hadn't been able to shake the mood swings he'd been suffering since his return. He just needed time to recoup his strength, and he was missing Walter. God, he never thought he would be this emotionally dependant on anyone ever again, let alone on another man. The relationship that he and Skinner had developed had come as a surprise to both of them, but after more than six months they had settled into it as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and he felt that Walter was the only thing left in his life worth a damn, except for his friendship with Scully. Then he'd been taken by the alien bounty hunter, put through a hell he couldn't remember and unceremoniously dropped back to Earth eight months later.

His thoughts wandered back to the previous night, thinking he was justified in feeling a little emotional and needy right now.

They'd arrived back at the motel after midnight. Mulder had wanted to add to his profile notes before turning in, Scully had scolded him about not eating enough at dinner and he was so tired that he'd found himself almost in tears over her berating him. She had fallen into the habit of treating him like a child on occasion.

He'd hurriedly excused himself to go to his own room and the sudden urge to call Walt had overcome him. By that time it would have been around 3am in DC, but Mulder called anyway. He needed to talk to his lover, he missed him terribly. Then the answering service picked up, and Mulder found that he couldn't find the words to leave a message. He didn't want to worry Walter by leaving a message with the service while he was sounding upset, so he'd just hung up. And then he found that he couldn't hold it together anymore, and no matter what he did to try and stop them, no matter how irrational he thought it was, tears began to fall. Once he got himself back under control, he'd decided that he really was overtired to be so emotional and planned to try to get a reasonable night's sleep - until he and Scully were woken less than 4 hours later with the news that they'd found another crime scene. That had eventually led them to the gruesome discovery of the decomposed body and the ensuing events of the day.

As he settled into sleep, Mulder pondered over what Doctor Martin had said about his blood work. He chuckled quietly as he drifted into oblivion. It was amusing how the test results had been interpreted, it was physically impossible for him to be pregnant. Now that really would be an X File. It was absurd. Besides, this was real life, not some cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. A niggling stray thought sent a shiver through him -- the aliens couldn't have, wouldn't have done that to him, would they? It wasn't possible, but then who'd have thought alien abduction was real? Dismissing his thoughts as ramblings of an exhausted mind, he was asleep seconds later.

Comfort Inn
June 29, 2001

The soft touch of a cool hand on his forehead woke Mulder with a start.

"Good morning. Sorry I startled you," Scully smiled down at him.

He stretched lazily and glanced at the heavily draped window. Bright sunlight could be seen in the tiny gap where the drapes met. "What time is it?" He accepted the water Scully handed him and drank.

Scully, who was dressed and ready to go, sat on the edge of the bed. "It's just before nine. You sleep well?"

Mulder nodded. "Shit, I slept over twelve hours? Open an X File, Scully."

"Yeah, I kept coming in just to check if you were still breathing," she joked back. "Feel up to some breakfast?"

"Yeah, I am kinda hungry." He pulled the sheet around his waist, got up and headed into the bathroom. "What's on today's agenda?"

"Actually," Scully spoke to the now closed door, "we get to pack up and go home."

The toilet flushed and Mulder came back into the room. "Scully, I'm okay - really. We don't need to go home on my account."

"Don't flatter yourself, Mulder. They took a suspect into custody this morning. Looks like they got their guy. Jackson called me a few minutes ago, they're searching his house now and it looks like they'll have enough evidence to convict."

"That's terrific news."

"Yeah, it is. With no small thanks to you, I might add. C'mon. Get dressed, I'll call the airline and get us a flight home."

Walter Skinner's Apartment
Crystal City

Mulder fitted his key into the lock on Walter Skinner's apartment door and jiggled the door open. He stepped wearily inside, dropped his suit pack and bag unceremoniously onto the floor and leaned heavily back against the closing door. It was good to be back on familiar territory. In the end it had taken he and Scully all day to get home after writing up a final report, connections and flight delays, and he was bushed.

Skinner came out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on a dish towel. His smile quickly faded when he saw how tired his younger lover looked. "Are you all right, Fox?"

Mulder dragged his eyes open and nodded. "Yeah, I'm just beat." Walter embraced Mulder, who went almost boneless in his arms. "God, it's so good to be home." He kissed Walter hungrily.

"Come on, let's get you comfortable. Dinner's ready, are you hungry?" He pulled Mulder's suit jacket and tie off him and led him over to the dining table.

Mulder flopped down in the chair, rested his elbows on the table and propped his chin up on his hands. "Sort of," he answered as Walter reappeared from the kitchen carrying a casserole dish.

"Dinner, then bed," Walter promised.

"Sounds good to me," Mulder answered.

Up in the bedroom, Walter helped Mulder out of his clothes. He could feel the tension in Mulder's shoulders. "Lie down and I'll give you a massage," he breathed into Mulder's ear. The answering growl in his lover's throat sent a shiver up his spine. He undressed himself as Mulder stretched out on top of the bed.

Mulder watched, feeling himself begin to harden at the promise of things to come. It had been almost two weeks since he'd stayed over and they had last made love, he wanted tonight to be good for both of them. He reached over to the bedside cabinet and fished around in the drawer.

"What do you need?" Walter asked.

"A ring. I'm not gonna last two minutes without some help." Mulder grinned.

Walter helped Fox fasten on a cock ring, then turned the younger man over and began to massage his knotted shoulder muscles with aromatic oil. He felt his partner slowly lose the built up tension and relax. He worked his way down Fox's back, massaging his legs and feet, kissing each part as it relaxed, eliciting little whimpers of pleasure from the body beneath him.

Finally, he poured more oil into his palm and worked Mulder's butt. Mulder lifted slightly as his cheeks were kneaded, urging Walter to make love to him. Walter painted little circles of oil around Mulder's tight pucker, felt the quivering response. He pressed one finger slowly into the opening, then two. He pressed in and out in a steady rhythm, teasing the muscle into relaxing enough to accept him. Mulder rocked his hips and groaned, "Oh God, yes. Make love to me, Walter."

Walter slicked a little more oil onto his own engorged shaft and pushed into the waiting butt. Mulder hissed at the initial penetration and Skinner waited until Mulder started to rock back onto him, indicating he was ready to continue.

Mulder nearly lost it the second that he was penetrated. Walter knew his body language well enough by now to know he needed to proceed with slow deliberation to make the session last long enough for them both to be satisfied. He let Mulder set the pace, leaning forward and enveloping Mulder into a gentle embrace, running his hands over Mulder's chest, teasing the hardened nipples, working his way over Mulder's belly and down to the thick shaft. When he could feel that Mulder was close to coming he picked up the rhythm until he knew he was close himself. Then he deftly released the cock ring and seconds later they both found release. Mulder, with his usual animalistic scream, came hard in his lover's hand and Walter spurted his seed into Mulder with a strangled growl. After the convulsions of ecstasy dissipated, they both collapsed bonelessly onto the bed.

It took a few minutes for Walter to come back to himself, then he pulled out carefully, got slowly up and went into the bathroom for a wash cloth to clean his lover. When he got back he found Mulder sound asleep. Walt cleaned him up, kissed him tenderly and pulled the sheet up over his young lover's body, then he got in beside him and snuggled up. Mulder didn't stir.

Skinner's Apartment, Crystal City
July 4, 2001, 2:35pm

"Come on, Fox. If you don't hurry we're going to be late," Walter called up the stairs, "and you know how Scully is when you keep her waiting."

Mulder appeared in the bedroom door, dressed in his boxer shorts with his favorite black jeans pulled up but unbuttoned. "My damn jeans have shrunk, I can't get them done up. Either that or you're feeding me on too much healthy food and I've put on weight. Now what am I going to wear? I didn't bring another pair of jeans," he complained.

Walter sighed and went upstairs. He went to the wardrobe and pulled out a pair of his own jeans, "Here. Try these."

He held them out to Mulder who pouted, "They're not black."

With a glare, Walter put the jeans back on their hanger and pulled out a black pair. They weren't a designer brand like Mulder's or as nicely cut, but the younger man accepted them anyway and skinned into them. They were a couple of sizes bigger than his own and the result wasn't nearly as pretty as seeing Mulder's butt in a tight pair of jeans, but they would do.

Mulder preened in front of the full-length mirror that hung inside the wardrobe door and frowned.

"Now what's wrong?" Walter growled.

"I am getting fat." Mulder turned this way and that. "Will you still love me if I'm fat?"

Walter shook his head. He didn't see any difference in Mulder's skinny body. "Just get your damned shoes on and get your butt down to the car." He kissed the back of one sleek shoulder just to show he wasn't really annoyed. Secretly he was relieved that Mulder had put back all the weight he'd lost during the time he'd been missing.

Scully had invited them both to the annual Fourth of July barbecue at her mother's house. Maggie Scully was delighted that they came, although she was totally unaware of their relationship. Mulder felt a little guilty about that, since he knew that Maggie entertained hopes that he and Scully would eventually wind up together. He hoped she wouldn't be too disappointed when she found out that it would never happen.

This year it was just a small affair, with Maggie, Scully, Mulder and Skinner, as well as Maggie's neighbors. Mulder was thankful that Bill Jr. wasn't there this year. He didn't feel up to answering stupid questions and relating his feelings about his abduction to Bill.

It was nice and relaxing sitting in the back yard, drinking beer and talking. Soon it was time to fire up the barbecue. Maggie called on Walter to help start the flame and Scully went into the house to bring out the food.

"Come help me, Mulder." She poked him as she walked past.

Reluctantly Mulder got up and followed his partner. In the kitchen he asked, "What do you want me to do?"

"You can carry the steaks." She shoved a platter with large juicy cuts of meat under plastic wrap, into Mulder's waiting hands.

Mulder stood there and stared at the meat. His stomach did a lazy roll and he suddenly broke out in a cold sweat. He could feel the bile rise in his throat. "Uh, Scully..."

Scully turned from where she was unloading salads from the fridge in time to have the platter shoved back at her and watch Mulder bolt for the downstairs bathroom.

After a minute, Scully followed him and knocked on the bathroom door. "Mulder? Are you all right?"

The toilet flushed, water ran and then the door opened to reveal a disheveled and pale Mulder, face still wet from splashing cold water on it.

"Are you okay? Were you sick?" Scully persisted.

"Yes and yes." Mulder leaned heavily on the vanity. "And no, I don't know what caused it. I took one look at the meat and... bam-o. Maybe it was too much sun again," he suggested hopefully.

"I don't think so, Mulder. You've been in the shade most of the time. Have you still been feeling nauseous since Arizona?"

"No, not really. I've been queasy a few times, but this is the first time I've been sick since then. What's wrong with me, Scully?"

"I don't know, Mulder. You said your stomach has been touchy still?"

"Yeah, but I should be over that by now, shouldn't I?"

Scully ushered Mulder into the cool living room and sat him down. She checked his forehead for a temperature. "Are you feeling sick all the time?"

"No. I told you, the last time I was sick was in Arizona last week. The queasiness comes and goes."

"Have you had any stomach pain?"


"You eating right?"

That earned her a 'Look'. "Of course I am. Between you and Walt, junk food hasn't had a look in lately. Hey, maybe that's it - junk food withdrawal!"

"Be serious, Mulder. I think you should see a doctor. You didn't go when we got back from Arizona, did you?"

"I didn't need to, I'm fine... was fine. I've seen enough doctors and been poked and prodded enough to last me a lifetime over the last few months. Besides, I'm seeing a doctor now, aren't I?"

"I mean a proper doctor, a physician. Unless you want me to dissect you to find out what's wrong," Scully joked, then regretted it when Mulder turned green again.

Maggie called out from the kitchen. "Is everything all right? I thought you two were bringing the food out." She came into the living room and smiled a knowing smile at seeing Dana and Mulder sitting close together on the sofa.

Scully jumped up guiltily. "We're just coming, Mom. Mulder isn't feeling well, so I told him to sit in here where it's cool for a while."

The mothering instinct came out in Maggie. "Oh honey." She felt his forehead just as Dana had done. "You just sit here and rest a bit."

Then Walter came in. Mulder rolled his eyes, the last thing he wanted to be was the center of attention. "Is everything all right?"

Mulder got up and headed towards the back door, "Everything's just fine." He grabbed a couple of salad bowls and went outside with Maggie hovering protectively behind him.

Walter threw Scully a questioning look.

"He was sick again," she explained. "I think he should see a doctor."

"I'll see that he does. Do you think it might be serious?" Walter was worried.

"I really don't know. Has he had any other symptoms, or just the nausea and vomiting?" Scully asked.

Walter looked a little guilty. "I don't know, he hasn't said anything and I honestly haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary. Have you?"

Scully shook her head. "No, he hasn't exactly been his usual self, which is completely understandable. He's been a little moody perhaps - but I haven't noticed anything else. Look, it might be nothing, just his system taking time to settle down again. He said he was feeling the heat, it might be as simple as that."

Skinner dropped Scully off at her apartment later that night after they'd been to watch the fireworks. Mulder went up to his apartment with him and grabbed his overnight bag from the bedroom before heading back down the stairs.

"I'll see you at work tomorrow."

"You're not staying?" Walter asked.

"No. We agreed that we'd only do this on weekends and holidays. I stayed last night, but I need to go home tonight." He headed for the door.

"Fox?" Mulder stopped and turned to face Walter. "Don't I even get a kiss goodbye?"

"I'm sorry, Walt." He dropped his bag and gave Walter a hug, kissed him deeply and stood there resting his forehead against the other man's. "I'm just tired."

Walter put his hands on either side of Mulder's face and looked deeply into those beautiful hazel eyes. "You'd tell me if there was something wrong, wouldn't you?"

"Of course I would. I know you worry about me, but I'm fine."

"I just couldn't stand to lose you again. It's been too close too many times already." He was referring to the times in the past when Mulder had nearly died, and the fear that he was gone for good after Oregon.

"Look, if it makes you any easier, I'll go have a check up. Okay?" Mulder offered.

"Yeah, I'd like that. Just to be sure."

Despite his promise to Walter about seeing a doctor, Mulder put it off. He really did feel fine most of the time, except for being really moody, a little emotional and occasionally queasy. It was nothing really. But it played on his mind. If he was sick he owed it to Walt to find out what was wrong.

He was musing this over in his mind as he walked home from the Metro a few nights later. Passing the drug store, Mulder went in on impulse. He wandered aimlessly along the aisles. He felt more nervous than the first time he'd gone in to a store to buy condoms as a teenager. It was as if everyone in the store knew what he was there for and was laughing behind his back. He glanced nervously around and mentally shrugged. No one was watching him.

'This is ridiculous,' he chided himself and turned to walk out of the store. He got half way to the exit and stopped. The doctor in Arizona's words floated back through his mind. The doctor's nervous apology about the error in the results. Was it possible that it wasn't an error? Mulder took a deep breath and marched up to the section on the shelves that held home pregnancy test kits. Still having an internal argument with himself over how stupid the very idea was, the counter-argument that it wouldn't hurt to take the test and rule it out eventually won. He reached out, grabbed a box and headed to the check out.

Mulder sat on his couch and regarded the innocuous paper bag that mocked him from atop the coffee table. He'd dropped it there when he'd come home, and there it had stayed while he changed, made dinner and now sat picking at the pasta. Unable to stand it any longer, he dropped his plate on the table, picked up the bag, took out the box and tore it open. The printing on the enclosed leaflet was small and Mulder had to find his glasses so he could read it.

He read the instructions once, his nervousness making the words indecipherable, then he read it again. He picked up the cellophane package with what looked like a Popsicle stick inside and scrutinized it. It looked innocent enough, but by simply peeing on it in the morning he could have his whole life changed.

Hours later Mulder turned off his computer and scrubbed at tired eyes. In an effort to distract himself he'd surfed the late night chat rooms, finally giving up when he couldn't concentrate long enough to get into the conversation. He tried to watch the sci-fi channel, and if asked later couldn't have told anyone what the hell had been on. He paced, lay on the couch again periodically trying to sleep, then paced some more when he couldn't. By the time the sun came up he was a wreck. But it was officially morning, so he snatched up the test kit and headed for the bathroom.

After having held his bladder since late the night before, as instructed in the leaflet, it seemed incongruous that he was standing before the toilet now and not able to let his full bladder go. The Popsicle stick sat on the edge of the sink half unwrapped, waiting to be held under his 'mid-stream urine'. Any stream seemed beyond his current capability.

Finally, after resorting to letting the tap run as incentive, he was able to pee. He held the stick under the stream for several seconds then slipped it back into the wrapper. All he had to do now was wait several minutes and compare the color to the chart on the box.

He took a shower while he waited.

After wrapping himself in a towel as he stepped out of the bath tub, Mulder picked up the stick and the box. He held them side by side and tried to make out the color that matched. Then he cursed himself. Why hadn't he bothered to look at the color chart before? With his color-blindness he couldn't make out which color matched the stick. They just had to use the two colors that looked the same to him. He groaned in frustration and threw the whole damn mess into the waste basket, went into the bedroom to dress for work and put the whole thing out of his mind.

As he was leaving the apartment the abandoned test kit cropped up in his mind. Now he just had to know what that result was. He knew he wouldn't rest until he'd found out. He went back to the bathroom and retrieved the kit. But who could he trust to ask to help him?

Mulder tapped on the door to apartment 12. Mrs. Hennessy was a kindly old lady who he occasionally spoke to on his way in or out of the building.

"Who is it?" The elderly lady's voice called from inside.

"Mrs. Hennessy? It's Fox Mulder, from number 42. I need your help with something, ma'am."

The door opened as far as the security chain would allow and bright blue eyes peered at him. When she was satisfied that it was indeed him, Mrs. Hennessy opened the door fully.

"What can I do for you, dear?" she asked.

"Um, I'd like you to take a look at something and tell me what color it is." Mulder held out the strip of cardboard torn from the box and the Popsicle stick in its plastic wrapping.

Mrs. Hennessy looked at him curiously, then at the two items he held together. She shrugged and peered closely at them. "It's pink."

"Pink? You're sure about that?" Mulder's heart sank.

"Yes, I'm sure." The old lady sounded a little cross. "I may be old, but there's nothing wrong with my eyes. Look for yourself if you don't believe me."

"Oh, I believe you, ma'am. It's just that I can't see some colors, and I wasn't sure. Thank you for your time."

Mrs. Hennessy shut the door soundly in Mulder's face as he stood there dumbstruck.

Pink. Positive. It couldn't be. He refused to believe it. He needed further proof.

Office of The Lone Gunmen
July 10, 2001, 7:30pm

"Guys, I need a favor." Mulder held out a vial of blood that he'd sweet-talked Jackie at the FBI labs into drawing from him earlier that day. "I need this analyzed."

Byers took the vial. "What are we looking for? Alien retro-viruses? Branched DNA?"

"Yeah, any and all of the above. Check for any abnormalities at all, including running a, um... pregnancy test."

Frohike stepped forward and looked accusingly at Mulder. "This wouldn't be a sample from one of your little extra-curricular 'contacts' would it, Mulder?"

"What?" Suddenly Mulder caught on to what Frohike was getting at, "No, nothing like that. It's to do with a case I'm working on." He sighed, might as well pepper in as much of the truth as possible. "This blood is from a man. It's possible that he's somehow been impregnated. For obvious reasons I can't run this through regular channels."

Langly laughed, "You mean some poor schmuck's about to find out what it's like to be a mother?"

Byers threw him a glare that shut him up. "How have you come to the conclusion that he's pregnant?"

"Something picked up by chance in another blood test a few weeks ago, and symptoms mostly. And I... uh, he ran a home pregnancy test. It came out positive." Mulder shifted nervously from foot to foot. "When do you think I could get the results?"

"Well, if it's important," Frohike looked at Mulder for confirmation, "a couple of days, you want us to call you?"

"Uh, yeah. But only me. Don't leave messages with anyone else, especially Scully. And I don't need to tell you the need for secrecy."

"We understand, Mulder," Langly answered, "we don't want Dana getting upset over a guy having a baby when she can't... Ow!" He rubbed his arm where Frohike had just punched him. Scully didn't need reminding of her IVF failures.

Basement Office, J. Edgar Hoover Building Friday, July 13, 2001, 5:58pm.

Scully reached for the phone. It had rung just as she and Mulder were preparing to leave the office for the weekend. Mulder grabbed it just as her hand reached the receiver.

"I'll get it."

He'd been like a cat on a hot tin roof all day and Scully was glad the day was over.

"Hang on." He held the phone against his chest after answering it. "It's for me, Scully. I'll, uh, see you Monday." He tried to sound cheerful and normal. As soon as he was sure she'd gone, he returned to the phone, "Okay, Byers, what have you got?"

"Mulder, this is amazing. What are you going to do about this guy?"

Mulder sank down in his chair and closed his eyes, his stomach sinking. "It was positive?"

"Yeah, it was positive. There's all kinds of weird antibodies in the blood sample, and a high estrogen level. This is a medical wonder. I gather it didn't happen naturally?"

Mulder's head was swimming and he felt faint. He'd only heard half of what Byers had said, "What? Oh, no, of course it wasn't natural. I don't think so, anyway." He blew out a breath. "Listen, I need one more favor. I need the name of a good doctor who can be trusted with this, to run more tests."

Byers told him that he knew one he trusted who was an obstetrician and would let him know as soon as possible if she was willing to help. "Mulder? Is there anything else we can do?" he asked sympathetically.

"What do you mean?" Mulder asked a little defensively.

"Um, this might be none of our business, but is this guy anyone we know?" Byers ventured tentatively.

<Shit, shit, shit. They knew.>

"Are you going to tell Scully?" Byers continued, "You don't have to be alone in this. We'll help you any way we can."

"What makes you think it's me?" he demanded hotly.

Byers remained calm, "Blood type, DNA. It wasn't hard to work out. Do you think that this might have been something done by, you know, the aliens?"

"I don't know," Mulder breathed. He could feel angry tears building and rubbed his hand over his eyes. Hadn't he been screwed around with enough already? "I guess it might be. Look, I can't talk about this now. Find out about that doctor and call me, okay?" He hung up and buried his face in his hands. <Oh Fuck, what a mess. Walter. How the fuck am I going to tell him... and Scully.> And what did this mean for him?

Walter Skinner's Apartment, Crystal City Friday, July 13, 2001, 7:50pm

Mulder trudged into Walter's apartment with leaden feet. Walter was sitting on the couch, reading the newspaper. He turned at the sound of the door opening.

"Hey, I was beginning to wonder if you were coming tonight." He stood when Mulder made no move to go any further than the doorway. "What's wrong?" he asked, panic mounting. Mulder looked so pale and that scared him.

Mulder couldn't meet his eyes, the courage to speak deserted him. His natural reflex was to turn and run, but to where? He needed to talk to Walter about this, but how to begin?

In three quick strides, Walter was in front of Mulder and took the briefcase from his nerveless fingers. "For God's sake, Fox, tell me what's wrong! You're scaring me."

Mulder dissolved into tears and melted into Walter's arms. "I don't know what to do," he hiccupped.

"Fox, you're not making sense. What do you mean, you don't know what to do?" He led Mulder over to the couch and sat him down. "Has something happened?"

Mulder nodded and sniffed, wiping his nose and eyes on the handkerchief Walter gave him. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm crying, I can't help it."

Walter softened his tone, "Please, Fox, tell me what happened."

Gathering his composure as much as possible, Mulder looked directly into Walter's eyes, "You're not going to believe this, I didn't at first, but I had the Gunmen run the blood work through their own channels."

"What?" Walter's blood ran cold. "What did they find?"

"I think They did it to me." Mulder couldn't say it, he knew he was scaring Walter, but he didn't know how he was going to react. Yes, he did actually. Walter would want to go out and hunt Them down. But that would be an exercise in futility.

"What did They do to you?" Thoughts of Scully's cancer loomed in Walter's mind.

There was no easy way to say it, so Mulder just blurted it out. "I'm pregnant." He watched to see what kind of reaction Walter was going to have.

Walter stared at Mulder in disbelief. "You're preg..."

"Pregnant," Mulder finished the word for him. "I didn't believe it either. But the blood test confirmed it. And I did one of those home pregnancy tests too. That's why I've been so moody and nauseous. It makes sense now."

"Wait a minute," Walter interrupted. "In case it's escaped your attention, men don't get pregnant. It's physically impossible. There must be some mistake. We need to get you to a hospital, you might be really sick or something..."

"No, no hospital, Walt. Byers is going to find someone we can trust, then we can find out more. And it's not entirely impossible for a man to carry a baby, it's been done in animals and the technology exists to artificially inseminate. And we don't know what physiological miracles the aliens are capable of." He was calmer talking about it than he'd thought would be possible earlier. But he'd had a couple of hours to absorb the news.

"But when... how??" Walter still couldn't absorb what Fox had told him.

"I don't know. I'm not missing any time that I can think of." Mulder thought hard. "It might have been while I was..."

"You were what?"

"It might have been when I was still on the alien ship. It could have happened then," he sighed. "But why? Why would they do this to me? I just don't understand."

"I think we should call Scully." Walter suggested. "Her medical knowledge might help us sort this out. Are you sure that you are..." Walter couldn't seem to say the word.

"I keep hoping that the blood test is wrong, so no, I'm not one hundred percent sure. We need the doctor to run some more tests, but all the evidence so far seems to indicate that it's true." Mulder sighed. "Do we have to tell Scully?" Walter's pointed look gave him the answer. "Yeah, I guess we do." He picked up the phone and dialed her familiar number.

She answered after three rings. "Scully."

"Hey, Scully. Are you busy?" He tried to sound nonchalant. "I need you to come over to Walter's, there's something I need to tell you. Can you come now?"

"Yeah, I can come now if it's important. Mulder, is there something wrong?" She sounded worried.

"Look, I can't tell you on the phone. Just come over, okay?"

A half hour later, Scully sat with the same stunned expression that Walter'd had and asked the same questions about how it could have happened, and was he sure about the blood test results.

"My blood work has said the same thing twice now, I don't see how it could be wrong."

"Twice? When was the other time?" Walter demanded.

Mulder recounted the Arizona ER doctor's findings that they'd all thought was a mix up at the time.

Ever practical, Scully asked, "What happens now, Mulder?"

He shrugged, "I don't know. Byers is going to come up with an Obstetrician that's trustworthy and we'll find out for sure, then decide from there."

Scully practically exploded. "Decide? Decide what? It could be very dangerous for you to have a baby, Mulder. No man has done it before to my knowledge. They're just not built for it. It might be a lot safer to terminate now, before it goes too far. You are a man. A man can't give birth, that means a C section - major surgery. You don't know what damage it's already doing to your internal organs since it can't be in a natural womb. Mulder..." she paused and continued quietly, "Mulder, you can't even know if it's human."

Skinner, who'd been pretty quiet up until now, spoke. "Fox, what will this do to you? What will happen to you if the military and their scientists find out? You'll have to stay hidden away, and it'll be too hard to explain to any hospital that you are giving birth. You didn't like all the prodding and probing after your abduction, can you even imagine what they'll do to you over this?"

Mulder felt the pressure building and fought not to explode. "I know I haven't thought it through, it's all so much to absorb. I haven't said that I'm going to have it, but I also don't think I should rush into getting rid of it. I just think we should wait and see what the doctor says. I don't see how any decisions can be made until then." He desperately wanted to avoid thinking of what the mad scientists might do if he fell into their hands.

Right now, whichever way you looked at it, it was a scary situation and he knew decisions would have to be made soon. It scared him even more that he was even contemplating that there were options here; that he wasn't all out for getting rid of what might be growing inside of him. Something deep inside him wanted to have this baby, to give him back the family that he'd lost. As a psychologist he knew that his instincts were unreliable at best right now, and that just left him feeling even more confused. And there was also the possibility that this 'maternal' instinct had also been implanted into him and didn't have anything to do with how he was really feeling.

Later Byers called and said his friend was away for the weekend, but would be back in town and could see them one day next week after normal clinic hours. The wait seemed interminable. Scully wanted to stay but Mulder sent her home, saying there was nothing she could do and he'd call her if he thought he needed her.

Walter spent the weekend dealing with a Mulder who swung from white hot rage over the injustice of being a guinea pig, to tears and depression over what this was going to do to his and Walter's lives, to silent introspection. When Mulder got to the point where he absolutely had to burn off some physical energy or go mad, Walter took him to the Y pool and Mulder swam laps until he was practically exhausted. He would have preferred to run, but in his 'condition' Walter didn't think it would be wise.

It was a long weekend.

Redmond Clinic
Office of Doctor Rebecca Whiting
Monday, July 16, 2001, 6:30pm

"Mr. Mulder?" The statuesque black woman approached the three FBI agents sitting in the deserted waiting room.

Mulder got up and shook the doctor's hand. "I want to thank you for seeing me after hours." He introduced Skinner and Scully.

"Well, it is a rather unusual case. John told me a bit about it. He said that you thought you had been impregnated by some group that experimented in genetics." She managed not to sound too incredulous.

How much more incredulous would she be if she knew what they suspected was the truth. Mulder could picture the tabloid headline "Man says he's having an alien baby."

Scully spoke up. "We can't really discuss anything about the hows and whys, Doctor Whiting, for your own safety it's better that you don't know. We just need to confirm Mulder's condition and have some DNA tests run to see what he is carrying in there."

Rebecca's eyebrow rose in surprise. "You think it might be... what?"

"We don't know for sure," Skinner answered. "All you need to know is that this 'group' have experimented with alien DNA and hybrids before. We need to know what courses of action are open to us, and what effect it will have on Mulder's health to remove this thing." He didn't see Mulder shudder at his words.

"I see." Rebecca was intrigued, "Let me be as up-front as I can, Mr. Skinner. If you want my help, medically, I'm going to have to have access to all of Mr. Mulder's medical history, no matter how secret you think it should be kept. I promise you complete confidentiality, but I have to know if there are likely to be any issues that could affect my patient's well-being."

Skinner and Scully both bristled visibly.

"Okay, time-out, guys." Mulder stepped in before this turned bad and he had to go looking for a new doctor. "I have no problem with you knowing my medical history, Doctor. I don't have too many options here, regarding health professionals who wouldn't be willing to put me on the front page of the latest medical journal. So please - Walt, Scully -- we have to trust Dr. Whiting. If Byers is prepared to vouch for her, that's good enough for me."

He looked beseechingly at his two closest friends and they caved, albeit reluctantly on Scully's part.

"Okay." Dr. Whiting nodded. "Well, first things first. I have the results of the blood tests done so far, but I'm still going to need a more complete history and run tests of my own."

Scully reluctantly took a large file from her briefcase. "In here are full details of Mulder's medical history, including exposure to an alien retro-virus, as well as all the information we have on a substance he was infected with three years ago, the case-notes on a brain condition he suffered nearly two years ago, and copies of all the tests done recently when he turned up after being missing for 8 months." Scully watched for a reaction. She got none.

"Very thorough, Ms Scully. John told me you were a pathologist. Your help might be appreciated with some of the tests I'll need to run. Obviously the less people we have involved in this case the better." Dr. Whiting was nothing if not a born diplomat, She continued to show little surprise at the unusual illnesses, a slightly raised eyebrow was the only outward sign. And including Scully in the proceedings did wonders to smooth the FBI agent's ruffled feathers. "John has made arrangements for any lab work that needs to be done to go through private channels."

The doctor turned to Mulder, "Would you go into the examination room and get into a gown, Mr. Mulder? You can leave your underwear on." She indicated a door down the hall, on the left. "I'll be just a minute." She took a seat and indicated to Scully and Skinner to join her, explaining that she wanted to skim the file a little more while Mulder got ready. She also told them that she'd need a few minutes to examine Mulder alone and then they could come in.

Mulder made small talk as he was poked and prodded by the doctor in very intimate places, trying not to squirm when she mentioned performing an internal exam. "You don't seem overly surprised at any of this, doctor."

"I know quite a bit about you, Mr. Mulder. I've been friends with John Byers for years. I know the sorts of things he gets mixed up in with those two misfits he calls partners. If you tell me that this could be an alien hybrid you're carrying, I'll investigate that possibility. It seems you've been put into a situation not of your own making, so now we have to work out the best thing to do. For you." She emphasized that last part strongly.

Mulder nodded, but there were others to be considered also.

"Uh, I'll bet there's one thing Byers didn't mention, that I don't think he knows about me, but you're gonna find out as soon as you do that internal."

"What's that?"

"I'm in a, um, same sex relationship at the moment. I just thought you should know, in case it affects anything, you know, physically. And since I think we shouldn't have secrets if we're going to be dealing with this. Whatever I decide to do will affect him, too."

"I appreciate your honesty. It's something that needs to be taken into consideration, certainly. I'm assuming that your partner is out in the waiting room?"

"Both partners, actually." At the doctor's quizzical look, Mulder clarified, "Scully is my FBI partner and good friend. She also holds my medical power of attorney for emergencies. It's just easier that way."

"I understand. Well, I think that under the circumstances you can call me Rebecca."

Mulder smiled. "Thanks. I prefer Mulder to Fox."

When the initial physical exam was over, Scully and Skinner came in.

First, more blood was drawn. Mulder grumbled and Rebecca replied she wanted tests for different things run. She suspected that Mulder was already anemic and would need iron supplements to compensate for the drain that the pregnancy was putting on his own blood nutrients.

Then she ran an ultrasound. She located where the fetus was situated, nestled in front of the large intestine with the placenta attached to the large bowel, an excellent placement since there were enough major blood vessels there to effectively sustain it. She also decided that by the size of the fetus he was approximately 14 weeks along. There didn't appear to be any obvious abnormalities and it appeared to be human. The tiny heartbeat was plain to see.

Mulder stared at the screen in fascination. That perfectly shaped little thing was living inside of him. He wanted to ask, but didn't, if Rebecca could tell if it was male or female. It wouldn't do to get too personal just yet. But his rapt expression didn't go unnoticed by either Skinner or Scully.

The one test that would give them the most answers was also the most dangerous to the fetus, and potentially dangerous to Mulder. An amniocentesis to draw some of the fluid from the sac surrounding it. They could run DNA and genetic tests from a small sample and know for sure the origins and possible parentage.

It hadn't occurred to any of them before that if it turned out to be a human baby, just who the genetic parents might be.

"There is a small sterile procedure room here in the clinic where we do these tests routinely. We can do it tonight if you're up to it, Agent Scully can assist me. It entails a local anesthetic and placement of the needle by use of the ultrasound. It's painless, although it can be a little uncomfortable." Rebecca explained.

"Is it any worse than a lumbar puncture?" Mulder asked.

"Goodness, no. Nowhere near as bad. Why? Have you had one of those?"

Mulder screwed up his nose. "Yeah, first one was when I was in College. I got sick and they thought I had meningitis."

"Did you?"

"No. Just a really mean 'flu bug."

Rebecca injected the local anesthetic into the skin on Mulder's abdomen where the amnio-needle would be inserted then left him alone with Skinner while she and Scully went to scrub up and prepare for the test. No words were spoken between the two men, but Skinner just sat holding Mulder's hand, not daring to ask what was on the younger man's mind.

Skinner helped by distracting Mulder during the procedure and keeping him still. Scully operated the ultrasound and Rebecca manipulated the needle.

Finally it was over.

"I want you to lie still for a little while, Mulder. We don't want the sac to tear. The puncture will close over quickly if you don't move around for about a half hour." The doctor put a small sterile dressing over the puncture wound. "You might be a bit sore in the morning. In a normal pregnancy I would tell the mother to just take it easy for a few days, because the womb protects the sac, but since we don't have that luxury here, I'm telling you to have twenty-four hours total bed rest to be on the safe side, and then stay off your feet as much as possible for another few days. A rupture could be life-threatening and would require immediate surgery."

Mulder started to protest, but was cut off by Rebecca, "I mean it. If this turns out to be a normal, healthy, human baby and you decide to carry it to full term, you will follow my instructions to the letter. Is that understood?"

Mulder sighed and nodded. Skinner squeezed his hand and Mulder silently asked for understanding.

Scully looked horrified. "Mulder, you can't seriously be considering going to term?"

Mulder answered her, but looked deeply into Skinner's eyes as he spoke. "I don't know yet. I want to know the results of the tests before I decide."


Scully protested, but Skinner cut her off. "Not now, Scully. He's right. We'll wait for the results."

Scully gave in for now, not altogether graciously.

Rebecca continued with her instructions. "Absolutely no strenuous activity at all, no activity at all for the first day -- don't even get up to go to the bathroom unless you absolutely have to. Don't put your feet on the floor for any reason until at least tomorrow morning, then stay off your feet as much as possible for another few days."

"We'll make sure he does as he's told," Scully answered. "I have a few days vacation time I can take to be with him during the day."

Mulder scowled, and entered into an argument he knew he couldn't win. "I can manage. I don't need to be coddled."

But even Rebecca wasn't on his side. "Accept the help, Mulder. Keep your feet up and rest for a few days."

Rebecca went to write out the instructions for the tests to be run on the blood and amnio-fluid samples that would be dropped off to the Lone gunmen after she left here, and to write the scripts for iron tablets and supplements that she wanted Mulder to start taking straight away. Any other necessary medications such as hormones would have to wait until some final decisions were made.

Rebecca handed each of them one of her business cards. "This has my pager number on it. If you have any concerns, leave a message and I'll call you back as soon as possible. If it's urgent, I'll get back to you within minutes. My service will be told to give your messages priority. Mulder, if you experience any cramping or your belly starts to feel hard, call me immediately." She hesitated a moment, then continued, "There's one other thing. I'm going to need a little more medical help on this. I'd like to involve one other doctor. She's a general surgeon."

"Can she be trusted?" Skinner asked.

"Absolutely. She's John's sister, my best friend and partner. I trust her with my life."

Scully frowned, "You will be trusting her with your life, and Mulder's. We can't stress enough how important it is that as few people as possible know about this."

Rebecca nodded, "But we will need more help, and she operates here at Oakridge, the private hospital attached to this clinic. We will need surgical facilities at some stage, regardless of what you decide, and she has the resources. Once we know what the plan is, we'll build a hand-picked team to deal with things."

The agents agreed. There would be need for a few more people to be involved, but not until absolutely necessary and then only as few as they could get away with.

Walter helped Mulder dress while Scully went and brought the car up to the front door of the clinic, then he wheeled Mulder out to the car and lifted him into the back seat, much to Mulder's embarrassment and protests that he could walk. Rebecca's glare shut him up and he acquiesced.

Mulder didn't bother to protest when they got back to Walter's apartment building and he was carried up to bed in Walter's strong arms. They'd stopped at the drugstore where Scully went in to have the prescriptions filled and to pick up a few essentials, including a dreaded urinal bottle which she proudly announced would alleviate the need for Mulder to get up even to go to the bathroom. They then picked up some Chinese take out for dinner, since none of them had eaten yet.

It was after 11 by the time they got Mulder into bed and sat down beside him to eat the food. They ate in silence, Mulder too exhausted to do more than pick. Eventually Scully got up to leave, packing away the leftovers and empty cartons.

"I'll be back first thing in the morning, before you go to work, sir." She bent and kissed Mulder on the forehead. "Sleep well, I'll see you tomorrow. Be good."

"I will, I promise." Mulder smiled back tiredly.

Walter got up. "I'll see you out." He tossed the urinal bottle to Mulder. "Make yourself useful while I'm gone," he said grinning.

Mulder shot him the bird.

When they got downstairs, Scully turned to Walter. "It was a mistake letting him see that ultrasound. Did you see his face? He'll want to see this thing through to the end, regardless of what the test results show."

Walter could only agree, "I just don't want to see him hurt, I hope that he doesn't get too disappointed if things turn out badly. I just hope to God we can keep this quiet."

Back upstairs, Walter found Mulder lying back against the pillows, absently rubbing his belly.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"Hmm? Yeah. A little stunned, but okay."

Walter saw the discarded urinal on the floor beside the bed. "You go?" He bent to pick it up.

Mulder sighed, "Yes, mom. I used the potty like a good little boy."

Walter disappeared into the bathroom and Mulder heard him going through his nightly routine. Eventually Walter reappeared, ready for bed. He held out Mulder's toothbrush, already loaded with toothpaste. "Here." He handed him the basin he'd brought upstairs and put a glass of water on the bedside cabinet, then went back into the bathroom and took care of his own ablutions. When he came back he placed the cleaned urinal beside the bed.

Mulder sat up and cleaned his teeth, rinsing with the water in the glass and using the bowl to spit into. "You know, this staying in bed thing sucks. You don't realize how much you take the little things for granted."

As Walter cleared away the toothbrush and bowl, he said, "Yeah, but think of the perks." At Mulder's quizzical look, he continued, "Imagine the fun we're going to have in the morning when I give you a sponge bath!"


"Brat." Walter climbed into bed and drew Mulder into an embrace. "Get some sleep, Fox." He turned out the light and closed his eyes.

Mulder snuggled up close and kissed his lover gently. "G'Night, Walter. I love you."

"Love you, too, babe."

Mulder woke early the next morning, even before Skinner had stirred. Nature called, so he flipped back the comforter and was about to climb out of bed when a hand landed on his hip.

"Where do you think you're going?"

Mulder sighed. "Just to the bathroom. I'll be right back."

The hand didn't let up. "Uh-uh. You heard what the doctor said."

"C'mon, Walter. I'm gonna walk maybe ten steps."

"No. I'm sorry, but the doctor told you not to get vertical for at least 24 hours, and I intend to make sure you follow orders. I'm not letting you take any risks with your health. Use the bottle."

Mulder groused, but grabbed the bottle from beside the bed. "You know, this really sucks. I can't even go to the goddamn bathroom."

"I know, babe. But I'll make it up to you. I promised you that sponge bath, remember?" Skinner caressed Mulder's cheek, then leaned over and gently kissed him on the lips.

Mulder kissed him back passionately, then drew away. "I'm sorry, Walt, but I've really gotta go. And I can't do it with an audience." He shrugged apologetically.

Skinner rolled out of bed, grabbing his robe on the way. "It's okay, I've gotta go myself. Then I'll get things ready for your bath."

Mulder rolled his eyes. It was bad enough being confined to bed when he was injured or sick. When he felt totally healthy it was just too hard. He didn't know how he was going to survive the day. He sighed dramatically as he was finally able to pee. That was another thing he could never get used to, it just wasn't normal to pee in bed.

Skinner came back to the bedroom and put all the bathing implements on the bedside cabinet, dropped towels on the bed and then went back for the bowl of warm water. He gave Mulder the most sensuous sponge bath he'd ever had, gently rubbing the wash cloth over his limbs and torso. He kissed each body part as he washed it and soon Mulder was blissing out.

"God, Walter. Are you trying to kill me?" Mulder breathed huskily. "I want you to make love to me so much it hurts."

"I know. I'm sorry. But this is so erotic." They were both hot and aroused.



"Rebecca said we couldn't have anal sex, but... oh god, yes, just there..." Mulder groaned with need. "But she didn't say oral sex was out."

"You're sure it'll be okay?" Skinner was dubious of the way Mulder could bend the rules.

"After that bath you just gave me, I'm gonna explode regardless, Walter. May as well make the most of it. Please."

After a moment's consideration, Skinner decided that it probably wouldn't hurt. Mulder shifted position on the bed and pulled Skinner down beside him. He groaned with pleasure as Skinner's hot mouth engulfed him. Mulder started to rock his hips but Skinner released him.

"Uh-uh. Let me do all the work. You just lie back and enjoy."

Staying still was hard. Mulder was so aroused that he just wanted to pump himself into his lover's throat. It didn't take long until Mulder felt his balls draw up and then he spurted into Skinner's mouth. He cried out, hands grabbing fistfuls of the towel under him and arching up before sagging back bonelessly.

Mulder watched through slitted eyes as Walter finished cleaning him up and disappeared back into the bathroom. He was asleep again by the time Walter had showered and gone downstairs, waking only to the smell of coffee, toast and eggs. Walter shared breakfast with him on the bed before he had to leave for work.

Scully arrived a few minutes before Walter left.

"Good morning, Mulder. How are you feeling?"

"I'm not sick, Scully. I'm just fine, and I'm bored already. I hope you've got some ideas on how to fill the day." Mulder winked.

"Actually, I've brought my laptop. I got up extra early and called in at the office, I brought some of those files that you've been wanting to research. I thought we could spend the day doing the on-line stuff."

Mulder's face lit up. "Scully, have I told you lately that I love you?"

Walter came in to say goodbye. "I heard that. Two-timing me, Mulder?"

Scully laughed. "I brought something to keep him occupied." She indicated the files she'd dropped on the bed.

Mulder was already engrossed in one. Skinner smiled. "Well, have a good day you two. I'll try to be home early. And if anyone asks, I can honestly say the two of you are working out of the office on research." He leaned down and kissed Mulder on the head. "Be good."

Mulder pulled a face. "I'm not a two year old," he pouted, looking for all the world exactly like what he had just protested he wasn't.

For the third time in an hour Mulder went to get up out of bed. His nose was buried in the file he was reading, yellow legal pad at his side and he was chewing on his pencil. Scully gently laid her hand on his leg, preventing him from completing the act. Mulder looked up at her, confused.


"You were about to get out of bed... again."

Mulder sighed dramatically. "This is no good, Scully. I can't think if I can't move around. I have so much pent up energy..." He dropped the file onto the bed.

Scully smiled at the forlorn look on Mulder's face. "I know. But the doctor said..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Mulder flopped back against the pillows dramatically. "This sucks."

"Do you want to talk about it?" Scully offered.

With a shrug, Mulder answered her. "Not much to talk about, yet."

"We could talk about how you feel about all this."

"I..." Mulder paused, searching for the right words, "I don't know how I feel. It's all so weird. And I'm not sure that I want to feel anything until the test results come back."

Scully picked at an imaginary thread on the blanket. "I know that whatever decision you make, it's going to be hard on you. If this is a human baby, you have to decide if you are going to allow it to come to term. It's not a natural situation by any means, but it is still a life..."

Mulder cut her off. "Stop, Scully. Please just stop. I can't handle any of your Catholic right to life crap right now. I know that it's a life. I know that I'm already out of the first trimester, and God knows, I know that it's a totally unnatural situation." He reached out and took her hand to soften his words, "But this isn't going to be just my decision. This is going to affect Walt every bit as much as it affects me. We have to decide if we have the right to bring a life into this world, knowing the dangers it will face simply because it is my child."

"Mulder, that wasn't what I was talking about. I saw your face when you saw the ultrasound. I think that whether you realize it or not, you've already made your mind up. I just think you should think a bit more about the consequences of having this child."

"We still don't know if it is human, Scully." Mulder's voice was husky with emotion. He couldn't explain it, even to himself, but he did want this child, no matter what. And that scared the shit out of him, because intellectually he knew it was totally the wrong thing to do.

Scully leaned over and pulled Mulder into a hug. "I'll be here for you, no matter what you decide to do. And I'll help you every way I can."

Mulder felt tears pricking behind his eyes and angrily swiped at them. God, he hated feeling so emotionally fragile. He wondered how the millions of mothers out in the world handled being pregnant as easily as they did.

Scully suggested giving up on work and doing something mindless like watching videos and eating popcorn.

When Skinner arrived home from work at four and came upstairs, Scully raised a finger to her lips to shush him. She was sitting on one half of the bed leaning back on the pillows, watching CNN. Mulder was stretched out beside her, sound asleep. She slipped quietly off the bed and padded out into the hallway, pulling Skinner with her and closed the bedroom door.

"He dropped off about half an hour ago."

Skinner nodded. "He hasn't slept too well lately. I'll let him sleep a while longer."

They headed back down the stairs, into the living room. Skinner took off his suit coat and tie, and rolled his shirt sleeves up. "So, did he behave himself today?"

Scully laughed. "Yeah, pretty much. He started getting bored and fidgety around one, so we stopped for lunch and then watched a movie until he fell asleep."

Skinner smiled. "I'm surprised that it took him that long." He wandered into the kitchen, Scully followed. "Coffee?"

"Yeah, thanks." She paused and drew a breath. "Look, Walter, I know this really isn't my place to ask, but what are your feelings on Mulder going through with this pregnancy?"

Skinner handed her a steaming cup. "I don't know. I'm worried about him, Scully. He's been through so much, especially lately - losing his mom and having to face the fact that his sister is dead, then being abducted. Part of me says that he needs this baby to make up for the family he no longer has, and part of me is scared it will drive a wedge between us. We don't know just what he's carrying, and even if it is human - whose genes does it have?"

"Well, at least I think we all have the same concerns. Mulder is including us in his decision making, but when it all boils down, the final decision has to be his. I've already told him I'll support him, no matter what he decides," Scully said.

"That goes without saying. I love him, and I won't let him take any of this on alone. Why do you think I insisted he stay here for now? I don't think he should be alone, he needs the support of his family. But there is going to have to be a lot of changes in his life if he goes on with it, and I guess changes in my life, too." Skinner took a sip of his coffee.

"And how do you feel about that? Making changes to your life?"

Skinner shrugged. "Having children was always a dream of Sharon's. When she found out we couldn't have any - after her third miscarriage - I had to help her cope with the loss. I felt guilty, because I'd never actively wanted to have children. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved them if we had any, but I was on the fast track with the Bureau. My career was the most important thing in my life. That was my problem, and that was why Sharon left me in the end. But now..."

"Now, what?"

"Scully, I am a man in love with another man. Children never entered into the equation. But if Fox wants this child, I want this child. We'll make whatever adjustments we need to. I love him too much to lose him over something like this." Skinner's voice took on a soft quality that seemed at odds with his usual gruff exterior.

A comfortable silence fell over them and Scully gave his arm a gentle squeeze.

Skinner drew a deep breath. "So, you want to stay for dinner? I'm making my mom's lasagna, it's become one of Mulder's favorites."

"Sure. Want me to help with anything?"

"Yeah, convincing Mulder to eat some salad with it."

An hour later, Skinner went upstairs to wake Mulder.

"Hey, sleepyhead. Time to wake up for dinner."

Mulder rubbed his face sleepily. "What time is it?"

"Nearly six. I made lasagna and Scully's staying for dinner."

"You've been home long enough to make lasagna?"

Skinner nodded.

"Why didn't you come and wake me when you got home?" Mulder asked petulantly.

Skinner leaned down and planted a kiss on Mulder's forehead. "Because you needed the rest, and I wanted to cook. I couldn't be up here with you and in the kitchen at the same time. And I wasn't about to trust Scully with my mom's secret recipe."

Mulder reached up and pulled Skinner down onto the bed, kissing him soundly. "I missed you today. I hate being stuck at home, worse, I hate being stuck in bed. Can I get up for dinner?"

"Tomorrow morning, the doc said."

"She said twenty-four hours at least, preferably tomorrow morning. C'mon Walt, I'm getting a numb ass sitting in bed," Mulder pleaded.

Skinner sighed, clearly wavering. "I dunno..."

"I promise to stay quiet. I'll go down, sit and have dinner, we can sit in the living room for an hour or so and then I'll come back to bed. Walt, if I don't use up a little bit of energy, I'm not gonna be able to sleep tonight. Scully shouldn't have let me sleep this afternoon."

"You needed it," Skinner repeated, "You didn't sleep well all weekend." He paused in thought for a minute. "All right."

Mulder dove to the edge of the bed, but Skinner's hand on his shoulder stopped him getting up at first.

"You stay quiet, take it easy."

Mulder nodded his agreement.

"And only for a couple of hours."

Mulder started to protest, but Skinner continued. "We'll get rid of Scully early and we'll come back up here, I'll give you a back rub, we can watch a movie or..." He left it hanging, letting Mulder's imagination fill in the blank.

Mulder was practically salivating. It didn't matter that the doctor had said no sex, there were plenty of other things they could do. He readily agreed, and Skinner helped him up. The very first thing he did was go to the bathroom.

Skinner waited for him so he could walk downstairs with Mulder. He chuckled at Mulder's very audible sigh at being able to pee standing up.

Mulder came back into the bedroom and pulled on his sweats. "Come on, big guy, I'm starving."

By the end of Mulder's third day of staying at home, he was climbing the walls and Scully was about ready to strangle him. Despite being up and around, Scully made him sit a good part of the day with his feet up. They'd done some more research, Mulder had dabbled with playing some new on-line battle game with Langly for an hour until he got bored, then he'd read while she watched the mid-day movie. Finally, Mulder had convinced Scully that a walk to the corner deli wouldn't kill him, so they'd gone out for coffee.

Just as they got back to the apartment, Mulder's cell phone rang.


"Mulder, it's Rebecca Whiting."

Mulder's mouth went dry. "Yeah, Rebecca?"

"If it's okay with you, I'd like to come over and see you tonight."

"Umm, yeah. What time?"

"Say seven-ish?"

"Fine. Okay. I'll see you then."

Mulder stared at the phone in his hands for long moments, until Scully touched his arm.

"Mulder, are you all right?"

"Uhh, yeah. That was Rebecca Whiting. She's coming over tonight." He drew in a deep breath, walked over and sank down onto the couch.

Concern painted itself over Scully's features. "Is everything all right?"

"I, um, didn't ask. We'll know soon enough when she gets here."

Scully looked at her watch. It was just after five now. Two more hours to wait. "What time is the AD coming home?" She waited but Mulder didn't answer. He was staring at nothing. "Mulder?"

"Hmm? What?"

"I asked what time Skinner was coming home."

"Oh, around six." Mulder mumbled the answer, still distracted.

"Why don't I call him and get him to pick up some take-out?"

"Sure, Scully. I'm... I'm just gonna be upstairs."

Scully recognized that Mulder needed a little space and nodded. When he'd gone, she placed a call to Skinner and filled him in. Skinner said he'd leave the office straight away.

At 7:10 Mulder was pacing like a caged tiger. He'd been too nervous to more than pick at his dinner. When the doorbell finally rang, he nearly jumped out of his skin.

Skinner opened the door to find Rebecca had another woman with her. Rebecca introduced her companion as Susan Richards, the surgeon she had told them about, Byers' sister and also her life partner.

Skinner brought coffee and they all settled in the living room, a nervous silence charging the air.

"Well," Rebecca began pulling a file from her satchel, "I've got the results of the amnio and the other blood tests I ran. There are two separate issues we have to discuss. What is best for Mulder and what is the best thing to do about the fetus. I want to go on record now as stating my position. My, our priority," she included Sue in her statement with a gesture, "at all times, will be Mulder's health."

She didn't need to elaborate any further than that, the implication was clear. She would sacrifice the child if it became necessary, if they decided to go to term. Mulder started to protest, but Scully over-rode him.

"She's right, Mulder. Whatever you decide to do, you cannot risk your life on this. God knows, this whole thing is dangerous enough as it is, but if you..."

"I know, Scully." Mulder conceded.

"Okay then."

Rebecca opened the file. Scully fidgeted, itching to read it for herself. Mulder groped for Skinner's hand, needing the strength that his lover could give him.

"The DNA tests indicate that the fetus is human." A collective sigh of relief was breathed. Rebecca continued. "Looking at these results, there are a few of the readings that are a little off, but not significantly so."

Scully frowned. "What do you mean by 'off'?"

"Take a look for yourself." Rebecca passed the results to Scully, who perused them, stopping to search her memory for information about other DNA results that could give her a clue to what the anomalies might mean.

"What, Scully?" Mulder asked, his voice almost failing him. "Tell me."

"I don't think it's anything to worry about, Mulder. All the readings are within acceptable parameters. There's nothing abnormal."

Mulder was visibly relieved, but Skinner noticed that he was still shaking like a leaf. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." Mulder blew out a breath and scrubbed his face with his free hand. "So. It's a normal baby?"

"By the look of it." Rebecca confirmed. "All you need to do now is decide where to go from here. Mulder, it's up to you."

Mulder stood and paced up and down in front of the couch. Skinner and Scully gave him reassuring smiles. Now that he had to actually decide, all his rationality deserted him.

Scully tried to help. "Rebecca, what are the chances of actually taking this baby to term?"

"Clearly we're working without precedent here, but I'd say there's a good chance that if Mulder stays healthy and takes things easy, we could go to term. I have no idea if Mulder's body will be able to cope, we'd have to monitor things very carefully and be ready to act at a moment's notice if anything went wrong. And as I said, my first priority is you, Mulder."

"Can I add something here?" Sue spoke up for the first time. "The male physiology, as you know, isn't designed to carry a baby. However, it is not beyond possibility. The placenta, from the ultrasound, looks to be placed in the best possible position. It's attached to the large bowel and therefore has a really good blood supply. Without the protection of the uterus there are inherent risks to both parent and child. Any kind of physical blow could rupture the amniotic sac and we could lose the child and Mulder in minutes. Even during the birth, which would have to be by C-section, there are a lot of risks. Peritonitis, hemorrhaging, the risk of damage to other organs."

Rebecca added, "You would have to make a lot of changes to the way you live your life, Mulder. No placing yourself at risk from injury."

"That would mean no more field work, Mulder," Skinner stated.

"What?" Mulder stared at Skinner. He'd only just been cleared to go back to field work.

"I agree," Scully added. "It would be too risky. There's no reason you can't keep working, but anything too physical puts you and the baby at unnecessary risk."

"I hadn't thought of that," Mulder said miserably. Could he handle being desk-bound for the next however many months until the child was born?

"And we have to decide how much longer you should be at work at all," Rebecca added. "I'm going to want you to rest a lot, especially in the last trimester. This is going to take a lot out of you, Mulder, so I'm staying firm on that."

"Besides," Scully added, "how are we going to explain all the weight you're going to gain?"

Mulder was even more confused now. There were a lot of considerations that he hadn't even thought to take into account. Could he give up his work? Could he take the months of forced inactivity, well, inactivity compared to his usual daily activities? And would it just be while he carried the child? What was this going to do to his life from now on?

Rebecca could see him mentally wrestling with all the points brought up. "Look, you don't have to decide now, but you do need to decide soon. We're going to have to get you started on some hormone therapy if you are going to carry on or else do the termination. You're already into the second trimester and if this were a normal pregnancy, I wouldn't even be considering aborting at this stage unless it were a medical necessity."

Sue continued, "If you do decide to terminate, that is going to bring its own set of problems and risks. It will be essentially the same procedure as for the birth, and would mean abdominal surgery. I won't make light of it, it will be a major operation with all the inherent risks and recovery time. So you'd be looking at the next month or so off work anyway, and it would probably take you a good three months to get back into peak physical shape."

"It's a lot to think about," Mulder stated.

"Like I said, you don't need to decide right now. Take a few days." Rebecca stood, preparing to leave. "Call me and make an appointment for no later than the middle of next week."

Skinner saw the two women out.

Scully stood and pulled Mulder into a hug. "If you need to talk, call me." Then she left also, sensing that Mulder and Skinner would need time alone to talk.

"Are you all right?" Skinner asked.

Mulder shrugged, he hung his head, not able to look at Skinner directly. Skinner walked over to him and pulled him into a hug. Mulder hugged him back fiercely. "I don't know what to do. I thought I did, but now... I just don't know."

"It's all right, Fox. Rebecca said to take your time. Let's just sleep on it, okay. If you want to talk about it, we will. But you do know that I'm not going anywhere, that I'll support you one hundred percent in whatever you decide."

"But it's not just my decision. This affects you, too. What if I do decide to keep it?"

"Then I'll be here. I'll love your child as much as I love you."

"Our child, Walter. If I have it, it'll be our child. If you'd want that."

"Oh, Fox. Of course I'd want that. How could I not? Now, come on. I think it's time for bed. It's been a stressful evening and I don't know about you, but I'm beat."

Mulder got a sly grin on his face. "If you think you're tired now, how will you cope with midnight feeds and sleepless nights?"

"I'll cope. We'll cope."

Mulder lay quietly in the dark on his side. He watched the luminous digital display on his bedside clock. 3:41. 3:42. 3:43. He sighed. He'd watched it tick over the minutes into hours ever since he'd heard Skinner's breath deepen into sleep hours ago.

He went over in his mind, yet again, all the pros and cons of having or not having the baby that he could think of. The list was heavily weighted in favor of not having it, practically and intellectually. But emotionally... That was his stumbling block. He wanted this child. So he'd have to give up field work. An injury at any time could force that, and very nearly had several times in his career already. He could do consultant work, and when he had to give up going into work altogether, he could use his spare time to write. He'd always wanted to write more articles and do extra research on a lot of subjects but never seemed to be able to find the time.

He knew it would be no picnic, and that it would probably put an enormous strain on his and Walter's relationship, but other relationships had survived under worse odds. And if things didn't work out, well, he'd find a way to cope on his own. He always had in the past, he could do it again.

But was he ready to commit his life to caring for another, one that would be totally dependent on him for years to come? He waited for that inner voice to shout "HELL NO", but it was ominously silent. He was nearly 40 years old, he had no immediate blood family left. Skinner and Scully were what passed for family these days and while he loved them both dearly, it wasn't quite the same.

He absently rubbed his lower belly and finally started to drift into sleep.

Mulder stumbled blearily into the kitchen. It was 6:30am.

Skinner was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the morning paper. "Want some coffee?"

"Yeah." Mulder yawned. "I should make the most of caffeine while I'm still allowed to have any." He sank onto a kitchen chair.

Skinner got up and poured a mugful of the aromatic liquid and set it before Mulder. "Did you get any sleep last night?"

Mulder shook his head. "I think I might have dropped off around four."

Skinner kissed Mulder on the top of his head. "I'll make you some breakfast and then you should go back to bed." It was Saturday so Walter didn't have to go to work although he usually did for a few hours.

"Thanks. I think I will."

Skinner scrambled eggs and made toast. He set the steaming plate in front of Mulder, who promptly turned green and bolted from the kitchen. With a sigh, he took the plate back and replaced it with one containing just toast.

Mulder returned after a few minutes, still pale. "I'm sorry. That was no reflection on your cooking. Damn, I thought I was over that by now." He stopped at the refrigerator and poured himself a glass of orange juice. "I think I'll skip the coffee, too."

"My sister had morning sickness all the way up to her eighth month." Skinner moved the coffee mug over to the kitchen bench so that Mulder wouldn't have to smell it.

"Is that supposed to cheer me up? I guess at least I should be grateful I'm not craving pickles and ice cream."

"That comes later."

"Gee, thanks."

A comfortable silence ensued. Mulder drank his juice and Skinner waited for him to talk. He wasn't going to push things, Mulder would tell him as soon as he was ready, but Skinner could tell that he had made his mind up already, he was already talking in terms of continuing the pregnancy.

Mulder slid one hand across the table and Skinner squeezed it reassuringly.

"Walter, I'm gonna have it. I... I don't know if that's the right thing to do, but it's what I want. I know it's a lot to ask of you, and I'll understand if you..."

Skinner was around the table in a second and pulled Mulder up into a bear hug. "Enough. I already told you that I won't leave you. I love you, and you know? I'm glad that we are going to have a baby."

He pulled back and took Mulder's face in his hands, kissed him deeply. Tears were rolling freely down Mulder's cheeks.

"What are you crying for, babe? Is something wrong?"

Mulder shook his head. "No," he sobbed out. "I'm just so happy, and I can't help it. I don't know why I'm crying."

Skinner held him until he managed to get himself under control again. "I think it's your hormones. Didn't Rebecca say something about you needing some hormone therapy? I'm sure that you'll be less emotional when she gets that under control."

Mulder sniffled and wiped his nose on the hanky Skinner gave him. "Oh, God, I hope that doesn't mean I'm gonna grow breasts and become a soprano."

Skinner laughed. "I'm sure you won't. Everything will be just fine. You'll see. I'll take care of you, my love."

"Walt, there's just one thing. Don't coddle me. I know I have to take things easy, be careful, but please don't wrap me in cotton."

Skinner sighed. "I'll try. But you have to promise to follow the doctor's orders. I know it'll be hard on you, but Scully and I are here to help."

Mulder nodded. "You'd better get going if you want to go into work. I happen to know that a certain AD gets really grumpy when people are tardy. And I need some more sleep." He punctuated that with another huge yawn.

Redmond Clinic
Monday, July 23

Mulder, Skinner and Scully entered the clinic. During normal office hours the place would be teeming with pregnant women and young children, but now it was deserted.

Rebecca took them straight into her office where Sue was waiting.

Now that Mulder had made his decision, they had a lot of medical details to go over and to formulate their 'plan of attack'. They discussed what Mulder's physical restrictions would have to be. These included giving up running, but being able to swim as much as he wanted and lots of walking; no lifting of heavy weights; no over-reaching that would put strain on his abdomen; cut out junk food and eat healthy food; no alcohol; cut down on caffeine; no unauthorized medications, not even an aspirin.

As the list grew, Mulder again wondered if he was doing the right thing. At the rate they were going, there was going to be nothing of pleasure left in his life. He must have groaned out loud at some point because there was an amused snicker from Scully.

"What?" Mulder demanded.

"Nothing. You should just see your face, Mulder. I'm sorry, I know this isn't going to be much fun for you, but look on the bright side."

"There's a bright side?"

"It's only for a few months, and then you will have a beautiful child." Her voice took on a sad note as she finished that thought.

"Oh, Scully. I'm sorry. I'm such an ass. I never stopped to think how all this is affecting you."

"I'm fine, Mulder. I'm really happy for you. This isn't about me. I stopped getting upset about other people's babies a long time ago. Besides, this way I can spoil the child like an Aunt and not have to deal with the consequences."

"Not likely, Scully. His or her Godmother is going to get her fair share of dirty diapers and sleepless nights when she's babysitting."

Rebecca and Sue sat baffled by the conversation between Mulder and Scully. Skinner had leaned over and whispered that he'd explain later.

"Speaking of hims and hers, Mulder, I can tell you the sex of the baby if you want to know." Rebecca teased.

Skinner raised an eyebrow at Mulder in a 'do you want to know?' gesture.

"No, it's okay. I want to be surprised. I'm just going to be grateful if everything turns out fine and it's healthy."

From there, Rebecca went on to explain that Mulder would need to take the iron supplements every day, and the likely side effects from that - namely constipation and nausea - and that he would need to wear a low dose estrogen/progesterone hormone replacement patch to eliminate a lot of the mood swings, and fool his body into thinking that being pregnant was a natural state.

Mulder expressed his concerns for what the hormones would do to his masculinity and Rebecca assured him that the dose was so low that it shouldn't have any real visible effect, other than he may not need to shave as often and his hair might feel softer, grow faster. Rebecca showed him how and where to wear the patch on his inner thigh, and to replace it once a week. She also wanted him to take pre-natal vitamins daily.

Sue wanted to examine Mulder for herself so she could start to get a baseline of his physiology, just in case emergency surgery became necessary. And given Mulder's rather exotic medical history, she also wanted to have him give blood in small amounts every few weeks so that they would have stock of his own blood for when the time came for the baby to be born. It was a precaution in case he hemorrhaged. She explained that they often did this for high risk deliveries and that taking only small amounts more often would not cause any problems provided Mulder kept taking the iron. Of course, the very idea of having a needle poked into him every few weeks did not thrill Mulder in the least.

Mulder submitted to being poked and prodded again, and had another ultrasound so that Sue could check a few things that had not shown up on the previous scan.

By the time they all left the clinic and headed home, Mulder was in a happier frame of mind than he had been a week earlier, and Skinner and Scully shared the resolve that they would get Mulder through this experience any way they could.

End of Chapter one.
To be continued

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