Title: Life's Little Quirks, part 8
Pairings: M/Sk, M/K (and a tiny bit of D/Sc) This will eventually be M/Sk/K (fair warning.)
Summary: Mulder's not handling stress very well, how will he react to being handled by others??
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, they own me. Otherwise I might have a life of my own. Not that I'm complaining...
Warnings: M/M slash, profanity, mpreg, angst, h/c, relationships, love triangles and scheming aliens. All the really great stuff. : )
Author's Notes: Gosh, I'm embarrassed by how long it's been since an update. I've come so close to just deleting the whole story and forgetting about it, but then last night I finally got my muse back. Thank goodness, now I need to keep feeding it m&m's so it doesn't go away again.
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As Walter snored next to him, Mulder watched the shadows silently dance on the bedroom ceiling. He couldn't sleep. It wasn't the babies, they were quiet and still for once, and it wasn't even his usual insomnia - it was a headache. A bad one.
He'd been suffering for headaches for some time, but lately they had been getting worse. The last few months had been stressful and so he'd pawned off the increase in frequency and pain as simple migraines. But tonight, as he tried to focus on the ghostly shadows above him, he was unable to ignore one very important fact - along with the pain were the voices. And the voices were all around him...
Walter was dreaming that he and Mulder lived in a small house in the country. No jobs, no consortium or aliens...just a normal life with two small boys playing in the backyard.
Alex wasn't asleep - he was pacing his bedroom thinking of various problems that might come up during Mulder's pregnancy and trying not to think about Mulder sleeping upstairs with another man in his bed when it should be him.
The neighbor next door was watching an old black and white film while munching on dry cereal and trying to figure out how he would pay his credit card bill.
The neighbors across the hall were laying in bed wide-awake fuming over an argument that neither would admit responsibility for.
Across the street was a homeless man digging through a dumpster in search of food.
Two blocks away a young man was breaking into a car, calculating how much money he could get for it and how much drugs that would buy.
Hundreds of voices and images assaulted his senses as he tried to shut them out. So many unhappy people...so many vivid nightmares or dreams...so much pain...
Mulder grunted and clutched at his head as the cacophony rose and drowned out his own thoughts and any measure of control he had had on it. Tears were streaming out of his eyes and he was panting heavily.
"Mulder? Mulder?!" Walter shook his shoulder and shouted into his ear.
There was a sound of rapid footsteps up the stairs and Alex burst into the room, gun in hand.
"What is it?" he asked as he scanned the room for threats. Turning on the light he faced an angry Skinner as he sat holding Mulder in his arms.
"I don't know! Call Scully, tell her-"
Mulder held out one hand and shook his head, the sounds were fading fast and his control was returning. "No. No, I'm fine...just a dream..."
Walter turned his lover in the light, looking into his eyes. "You were in pain, Fox...you're all sweaty and pale..."
Mulder shuddered and lifted his eyes to meet his. "It was a dream...it just seemed so real. I'm fine. Sorry I woke you..."
Walter looked at him skeptically for a long moment before turning to meet Krycek's eyes. The younger man peeked out the blinds of the bedroom window looking for outside threats one last time before sitting down on the foot of the bed to look closely at Mulder.
It took a full twenty minutes to convince the two men that he was all right. In the end they settled for a cool washcloth on his face and Mulder's usual trip to the bathroom. Walter then tucked him back into bed as Alex reluctantly left for his own room.
As Mulder finally drifted off he marveled at the fact that the two men were able to band together for the common cause of cosseting him. It was embarrassing to be so vulnerable before the two of them and yet at the same time...rather nice. He wasn't used to such caring and love. His last thought before succumbing to his exhaustion was that he was rather lucky...
The next morning it seemed as if the incident really 'had' been a dream. There was no sign of a headache and the only 'voices' he heard in his head were the two men who lived with him. And those he was able to block out easily behind the shields that Alex had taught him to make.
His bladder forced him out of bed, as usual. He took a shower and was toweling his hair dry as he passed by the bedroom door and heard the muted sound of voices arguing forcefully just down the stairs.
Scully's voice was sharp and urgent. Mulder paused and leaned closer to the doorway and the words came clearer to him. "...pregnancy is difficult for him. Multiple births are always hard on the mother, but Mulder is a man and it's an unnatural state for the male body to be in. There's no telling what the medical repercussions could be in the future. And if you're right about his other symptoms..."
Alex interrupted, "I think it's the same kind of pain he had from the alien artifacts. He seems to be having headaches of the same intensity." There was a tense silence and Mulder found he was grinding his teeth as he waited for them to continue, how did Alex know this? Was he reading his mind?
Walter's voice sounded weary and sad when he finally spoke up. "I think he's right. Mulder's been downplaying the pain and he's having nightmares - horrible nightmares that are getting worse all the time. The other night he seemed almost altered."
"This kind of stress isn't good for him - he should be resting more and if his blood pressure is high..." Now even Scully sounded subdued. There was another silence and Mulder decided he couldn't take it anymore. Wrapping his robe tighter around his waste, he headed down the stairs.
"Don't you think I should be included in this little discussion?"
Scully winced as she saw her former partner stalk down the stairs with damp hair and a white bathrobe cinched at the waist. She felt a twinge of guilt, but repressed it in order to face him head on. "Yes, you should, Mulder. We were just waiting for you to wake up before we talked to you."
She couldn't help but notice how both Krycek and Skinner's attention were absolutely riveted on Mulder. Both tried to subtly steer him towards a chair, but Mulder soundly ignored them and crossed his arms above his belly, glaring at her.
"And what were you going to tell me?"
Now why was she the bad guy here? "Walter has some concerns for your health and your stress level. Krycek mentioned you were having headaches..."
There - now he was glaring at the two men, too. She couldn't help feeling a smidgeon of naughty glee - well, good. Let them share some of his anger. It was obvious that Mulder was really irked by the whole idea of them discussing his health - especially without his input.
Mulder shared a 'look' at all three of them equally and said quietly, but pointedly. "I'm fine, thank you very much for asking."
Skinner had the grace to look a bit guilty at that, but Krycek simply narrowed his eyes. "You're lying."
Mulder flinched at that and Scully felt a sudden surge of curiosity and worry. He 'was' lying and he was afraid of being caught at it. What was it he was hiding?
"Mulder, I think we should all sit down and talk about this in a calm manner. No one is accusing you of lying, necessarily..." she gave Krycek a warning glare, not that the young man deigned to notice it of course, "...but if you are feeling discomfort or symptoms of something out of the ordinary in your normal health it's important that you not dismiss them."
Mulder's shoulders slumped and he dropped his arms in defeat. "Out of the ordinary? I haven't felt ordinary in a long damned time - you'll have to be more specific." His voice was weary, but held his usual trace of dry humor.
Now he was starting to sound more open to communication, she needed to foster that feeling. It was still tense in the room - far too much to get Mulder to open up. "Maybe you'd like to talk about it in private with me first? And let me examine you?"
She was hyperaware of the other men's displeasure at her suggestion, but Mulder seemed grateful at her offer.
They headed up the stairs and closed the door to the bedroom. After taking Mulder's blood pressure and listening to the babies' heartbeats with her stethoscope, she sat down next to him on the bed. "All right, Mulder, talk."
Walter paced the room while Scully and Mulder went into the next room alone. He hated this feeling of helplessness. Something was bothering Fox, but his lover wouldn't share it with him - didn't he trust him by now? Didn't he know that his safety and well-being were foremost in Walter's mind? It hurt to realize that Mulder was probably sharing his secrets and troubles with Scully instead of him. He still trusted his former partner over Skinner - a fact that had always hurt him when the two had still worked together and he had been their supervisor.
"Relax, Skinner - Scully will get him to talk and convince him not to act like a stubborn ass. She has a knack at it."
Walter glared at the young man leaning against the patio door with a smirk on his face. "I know."
"And that's what's really bugging you, isn't it?"
"It doesn't bother me - Fox needs someone he can talk to - she's his best friend," he insisted.
Krycek chuckled at that and rocked on his heels before leaning back against the door again. "It drove me nuts, too. Very first time I saw them together they flaunted their special bond like it was a little fraternity I wasn't allowed into. Pissed me off."
Walter's eyebrow rose at this.
"But over the years I've come to realize something...they are partners whether they are working on the X-Files or not, but they don't work out romantically. They've shared too much horror and heartache. They're kind of like war buddies."
Before Walter could absorb that the door opened once more and Scully and Mulder emerged looking very serious. Scully looked grim and determined, while Mulder looked resigned and defeated. He quickly stepped closer to his lover, but clearly read the signals that said 'don't touch me' and kept their respective personal space between them. Skinner turned to look expectantly at Scully for answers.
She sighed and shifted her medical bag in her hands as she spoke up. "The pregnancy looks as if it is still progressing well and the babies heart rates are strong and steady. No signs of distress, though I'm going to arrange for another sonogram for later this evening so he should drink plenty of water for that..." she paused and seemed reluctant to continue, though she did, "I am a bit concerned for Mulder, though. He says that he's been having disturbing dreams and a few headaches, but is otherwise fine. I think that it is likely normal levels of stress and discomfort that come with carrying twins, especially at this stage of the pregnancy. But I do think every measure should be taken to ease it - his blood pressure is within limits, but on the high end."
"What should we do?" Skinner had to resist brushing a hand against Mulder's, though he sorely wanted that contact.
"We have to minimize his stress and discomfort. No more work, and he should restrict his movements. Plenty of bed rest...maybe the best thing would be to get out of the city. A quieter environment."
Walter looked over to see Mulder's reaction to Scully's words, but his lover refused to meet his eyes and looked instead out a window. He was tightlipped and distant.
"Is he all right, though?"
Scully shared his look at Mulder before answering, it was obvious that she was very worried for her former partner. "For now. I want to keep an eye on his blood pressure, though. Pre-eclampsia's a real danger if he doesn't take it easy."
"I know of a quiet out of the way place," Krycek spoke for the first time since Mulder had returned to the room. "It's secure. State of the art security system and no one knows of it."
Skinner sighed and rubbed at the bridge of his nose where his glasses rested. "I can't leave for at least another week - it'll attract attention if I miss certain meetings. I need to schedule vacation time..."
"I'll take him now and you can meet us there in a week."
He looked at Krycek and saw the challenge set there - would he trust Krycek or not? "You're right...he shouldn't have to wait. I'll get whatever additional supplies we might need as well."
Scully seemed pleased to see them cooperating so well. "I can help you with that...in fact, there are some medical provisions we'll need to make. Supplies to get, arrangements...would it be possible to use this place for the birth?"
They continued to discuss the details and arrangements in earnest - eager to finally be making concrete plans for the upcoming event. None of the three noticed when Mulder quietly slipped out of the room and headed upstairs without a word.
It was nearly an hour later before Mulder heard footsteps approach the bedroom. He turned off the TV that he'd been staring blindly at all that time and decided to face the upcoming conversation.
"Fox? Are you all right?" Skinner closed the door behind him and sat beside him on the bed.
"Didn't you already ask Scully that?" he snapped, but then shook his head apologetically, "I don't know, really...last night....I didn't tell Scully because I didn't want to admit it, but I had an...episode, I guess is the best word for it. My telepathic abilities seemed to go haywire...like they did a few years ago."
Mulder watched the color drain from his lover's face and instantly regretted telling him. After all, Walter was the one who had witnessed the worst of his sickness from the space ship's artifacts over four years ago.
"Do you - do you think it's happening again? That it will get that bad?" Walter's voice was hoarse and he looked truly terrified. Mulder reached out and took his lover's large hands in his own.
"I don't know..."
Two days later Mulder and Krycek were ready to leave. Mulder wore new sweats that Krycek had bought for him from a large men's clothes store and his bags held more stretchy pants and large shirts for the remaining months until the birth. He had dawdled long enough in saying goodbye, but he couldn't seem to bring himself to go just yet. His lover seemed to feel the same way. Walter pulled him into another hug at the door. Mulder leaned into the embrace, closing his eyes and nuzzling his lover's neck one last time.
"I hate this..." Walter whispered into his ear.
"I know," Mulder mumbled against his neck.
"You know I will...and Krycek will be there just in case."
The arms around him tightened as Walter reacted. "I don't trust him as much as you do."
Mulder tried to pull back to look into his eyes, but the arms were too tight around him. "He genuinely cares about my health...not to mention the babies..."
"It's not that...I don't trust him not to try and take advantage of the situation."
Mulder chuckled at that and pulled against the embrace once more. Skinner reluctantly loosened his hold and Mulder was able to put a hand down on his belly and look into his lover's eyes. "Really, Walter, I seriously doubt he's going to jump my body 'now'." His hand rested on the definite swell there that showed even through his baggy clothes.
Walter raised an eyebrow at that, "Why not? I did last night..." but he cracked a reluctant grin after that and Mulder felt the tension lessen. "Just promise me you'll be careful and take care of yourself...I'll join you as soon as I can."
He then turned to Krycek and gave the younger man his steeliest look. "You better take damn good care of him..."
Green eyes glittered back, serious and startlingly sincere, "With my life. I love him, too - nothing will happen to him, I promise, Skinner."
In a dim and neglected room of a small non-descript building, humid air moved sluggishly through the room as it was slowly stirred by an ancient ceiling fan. An old-fashioned hospital bed was shoved against the wall of the small room to accommodate various medical equipment. A shadowed figure lay on the bed wheezing as two men bent over the bed talking quietly, but intently to the invalid as he listened.
As the men fell silent, the man on the bed gestured towards his bedside table and one man quickly obeyed his demand by taking out one of the cigarettes from the pack emblazoned 'Morley' and producing a lighter.
A deep draw and a hacking breath later, the prone man gave a satisfied sigh followed by a dry chuckle. "Fox Mulder pregnant...will wonders never cease?"
To Be Continued...
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